Timeline showing how boat propulsion machinery was developed

The timeline below shows a few dates for the development of boat propulsion, also includes other related events which led to the Thames becoming, the world centre for marine technology during the 19th century.


1710 Thomas Newcomen builds the first practical steam engine.
1769 James Watt develops the steam engine.


1800 Richard Trevithick introduced the use of high pressure steam.
1801 Charlotte Dundas built by William Symington.
1812 New Locks on Thames
1814 Comet - First Successful Passenger Boat
1815 PS Margery - First use of a steamboat on the Thames
1832 First practical electric motors being developed
1835 Screw Propeller patented by Francis Pettit Smith
1837 Queen Victoria accession to the throne
1838 Great Western
1839 SS Archimedes - first successful use of a propeller
1843 SS Great Britain built by Brunel
1843 HMS Rattler


1857 Thames Conservancy formed
1858 Nautilus - first Thornycroft steam launch built
1859 Re-chargeable electric battery invented
1865 Headly & Yarrow Company formed
1866 Thames Conservancy assumes navigation responsibility
1867 First "practical" dynamos invented
1869 Cutty Sark - maiden voyage
1870 Thames Conservancy weed clearance starts.
1870 Cygnet - built by J.I. Thornycroft at Chiswick; yard no. 9
1870 Miranda, built by Thornycroft, exceeds 18 knots
1871 first use of a steam launch the Henley Royal Regatta
1873 Eva - built by J.I. Thornycroft
1875 Rap - first torpedo boat supplied to Norway
1875 G.F.G. Desvignes starts 20 years of umpire launch building
1876 Otto patented the four stroke engine principle
1876 Lightning - first torpedo boat built by Thornycroft for the Admiralty
1882 Electricity - the first electric launch on the Thames
1887 Yarrow patented a three drum design watertube boiler
1888 Alaska starts Salters passenger steamboat service
1889 Electric launch hire business starts on the Thames
1893 Hibernia achieves 28 mph
1893 Daring, Decoy, Havock, Hornet
1893 HMS Speedy - last large warship built at Chiswick
1893 Lodona - built for Mr Palmer of Huntley and Palmers
1897 Turbinia - first successful use of steam turbines.
1898 Consuta - built by S.E. Saunders at Goring


1901 Queen Victoria dies
1904 Saunders moves to the Isle of Wight
1908 Thornycroft moved to the Hampton launch works
1908 Thornycroft establishes yard at Woolston, Southampton
1909 Thornycroft's Chiswick yard closed.