Ships anchor cable chain link with stud.

Contributed by Pontypridd Museum

Chainsmiths at Brown Lenox works c.1900

Before the invention of anchor chain ships used hemp rope, which often broke and put lives in danger.As the size of ships increased hemp rope anchor cables were not strong enough, and in hot climates the fumes from wet and contaminated rope caused much sickness and even death. In 1808 Samuel Brown, a Naval Leutenant, fitted out a Navy vessel, the 'Penelope' with chain anchor cables and rigging and sailed her to the West Indies to prove the superiority of iron chain. In 1818 he and his cousin Samuel Lenox established a chainworks at Pontypridd. Their chains were made much stronger by the invention of the stud, patented in 1819 by Brown and Philip Thomas, foreman of the chain-shop. Brown Lenox made all the Royal Navy's anchor chains until 1916, as well as chain for great liners such as the Mauretania and Aquitania, and the launching chain for the Great Eastern shown in the famous photograph of I.K. Brunel. The last liner equipped with chain made at Pontypridd was the QE2; but this type of chain is still used by ships all over the world.

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patented 1819


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