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King Edward VII Launches H.M.S. Dreadnought (1906)


Main image of King Edward VII Launches H.M.S. Dreadnought (1906)
35mm, black & white, 125 feet, silent
Production CompanyCharles Urban Trading Company

King Edward VII launches a revolutionary new British battleship.

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The launch of a ship was an eminently newsworthy event, made even more attractive by the attendance of King Edward VII. The development of the Dreadnought was partly a response to the German navy's expansion since 1898. The British government had adopted the policy of 'two power standing', meaning that the British fleet should outnumber the combined fleets of two other powers. As Germany built more ships, so Britain, to maintain its advantage, responded with its own shipbuilding programme.

Edward VII launched HMS Dreadnought on 10th February 1906. The King is clearly seen in the uniform of an Admiral of the Fleet. The launch and commissioning of the ship revolutionised naval technology. Named after a ship at the Battle of Trafalgar, the Dreadnought was to give her name to a new class of battleship. She was built at Portsmouth, work beginning in October 1905, launched in 1906, and was flagship of the home fleet by 1907: a remarkable achievement in construction for the time.

Although she missed active service at the Battle of Jutland in 1915, as she was being refitted, she provided defence for the southern coast of England for the rest of the war, and was the only ship ever to sink a German submarine. She was placed on the reserve list in 1919 and finally sold for scrap in 1922, an ignominious end for such a revolutionary ship.

Simon Baker

*This film is included in the BFI DVD compilation 'Tales from the Shipyard', with piano accompaniment by Stephen Horne.

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Complete film (2:05)
Launch (1974)
Seawards the Great Ships (1960)
Topical Budget 11-2: H.M.S. 'Chatham' Launched (1911)
Topical Budget 87-2: Launch of H.M.S. Lowestoft (1913)
Torpedo Attack on H.M.S. Dreadnought (1907)
A Year in Film: 1906
Early Spy Films
Shipbuilding on Film - The Early Years
Tales from the Shipyard