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Warship Wednesday: HMS Lowestoft

10 November 2021

Chatham-built cruiser, HMS Lowestoft, who sunk a a German warship and survived the First World War, is the latest warship to feature in our Warship Wednesday blog series.

HMS Lowestoft saw her first real action in August 1914 when she managed to sink a German merchant ship – the commissioned vessel went on to survive the war and stay in the service of the Royal Navy throughout the 1920s.

Also in August 1914, she took part in the Battle of Heligoland Bight, which was the first naval encounter between the British and German fleets in the First World War.

The following year, HMS Lowestoft was part of the British battle fleet and fought in the Battle of Dogger Bank on 24 January 1915 before being reassigned to the Second Light Cruiser Squadron in 1915.

One year later, she was reassigned again to the Eight Light Cruiser Squadron, which was stationed in the Mediterranean.

The construction of the HMS Lowestoft commenced on 27 July 1912 when she was laid down in Chatham Dockyard. One year later, on 23 April 1913, she was launched by Lady Beauchamp during a grand launch ceremony.

A yellow painted board was made by Chatham Dockyard workers to celebrate the launch of the ship. It was hung among other decorations in the slip during the launch.

The postcard below seems to announce the end of the cruiser’s career after leaving Simon’s Town in South Africa. The description reads: “HMS Lowestoft leaving Simonstown for … in 1929. Now going to be broken up.” After being decommissioned, HMS Lowestoft was eventually sold for scrap on 8 January 1931 and broken up in Milford Haven.

HMS Lowestoft was one of the Birmingham Class Light Cruisers, which was a sub-class of the Town-Class Cruisers built for the Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy. These sub-class cruisers were named after their sister ship, the HMS Birmingham. The two other ships in this sub-class were HMS Nottingham and HMS Adelaide.

These ships were slightly larger than the preceding Chatham sub-class. The main improvement of the Birmingham Cruisers was the use of lighter guns. This allowed for extra weapons to be mounted on the ship. All four ships were in service during the First World War.

The Lowestoft had a length of 430 ft, a beam of 50 ft, a draught of 16 ft, and a displacement of 5440 tons. She had a maximum speed of 25.5 knots.

 

With thanks to University of Kent Masters graduate, Anne Selders, for researching and writing this blog when she spent time with our Collections team during a fortnight’s work experience. Anne recently graduated with a Master’s degree in Medieval and Early Modern Studies and was keen to learn more about Medway ships as her dissertation explored the impacts of the Raid on the Medway 1667.

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