Model Ships, Model Science and Test Tank Replication

Speaker: Dr Don Leggett # University of Kent

25th Oct 2012

15:00 - 16:30

Learning Centre, National Museums Scotland, Chambers St.

In 1886 William Denny & Brothers completed work on a test tank at their Leven shipyard. The tank used an assemblage of self-governing measurement instruments to record the behaviour of model ships and provide evidence of how specific designs would perform at sea. Denny’s, known on the Clyde as the most scientific of shipbuilders, made the tank a central component of their shipbuilding practice. Today the tank remains in Dumbarton, open to the public as part of the Scottish Maritime Museum.

Denny’s tank was the second to be built, and this lecture explores its conception and use through comparisons with other contemporaneous tanks in the UK and America. Comparisons help us understand how the same experimental practice – test tank investigations of ship resistance and stability – was understood and differently integrating into the shipbuilding industry and the study of hydrodynamics.

Please register with Maureen Kerr, on 0131 247 4274 or .


Understanding Technology: a series of public lectures presenting leading international research and ideas in the history, philosophy, politics and sociology of technology, held in co-operation with National Museums Scotland.