HMS Bronington

Ton Class built 1953 by Cook, Gemmel & Welton Ltd, Beverley

Ensign House flag

130

National Historic Fleet


Fighting Vessel

Minesweeper


Ton Class

Birkenhead


Unknown

Unknown


No

No


09/02/1996

23/05/2012



Gallery


Propulsion

Engine

Diesel


None

None


Dimensions

To be confirmed

28.72 feet (8.76 metres)


151.90 feet (46.33 metres)

8.20 feet (2.50 metres)


0.00


History

BRONINGTON was laid down on 30 May 1951 by Cook, Welton and Gemmel in Beverley, Yorkshire. She was launched 2 years later on the 19 March 1953 by Mrs W G John, wife of the Director, Naval Constructors. She was completed in June 1954 and named after a village near Wrexham. Built on the River Hull, a tributary of the River Humber, she was to remain in that area for four years. She entered service with te Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve's Humber Division and was renamed HMS HUMBER, assigned for 4 years to 101st Minesweeping Squadron based in Hull. During this period she won the Thornycroft Trophy for minesweeping excellence, against competition from both regular and reserve units. Reverting to her original name in 1958, after the Humber Division was disbanded, HMS BRONINGTRON rejoined the fleet and served in various squadrons before entering refit in 1963 to begin her conversion to a minehunter in Rosyth Dockyard. Alterations included the fitting of an enclosed bridge, a tripod mast and the latest sonar. In February 1965, she recommissioned as part of the 5th Minesweeper Squadron, which was based at HMS VERNON in Portsmouth. She returned to Port Edgar to Gibraltar Dockyard for a major refit, and then returned to the Forth in 1976 for further service in home waters for the 1st Mine Counter Measures Squadron. On 9 February 1976, HRH Lt the Prince of Wales took command for ten months, leaving the ship on 15 December 1976. On 14 November that year, during a visit to the Pool of London, HMS BRONINGTON was visited by the Queen, the Queen Mother, HRH Prince Philip and eight other members of the royal family. In the 1980s, in her final active years, HMS BRONINGTON was deployed to the Mediterranean as part of the 2nd Mine Counter Measures Squadron, and spending the last five months of 1983 detached in the NATO Standing Naval Force Channel, and was employed for a time as a member of the Fishery Protection Squadron. She entered Portsmouth to pay off on 23 June 1988. In January 1989, Parliament was informed that HMS BRONINGTON had been purchased by The Bronington Trust, a charity dedicated to her preservation and display to the public and on 24 January, she left Portsmouth for Manchester. She was opened to the public at Salford Quays on 28 October 1992. HMS BRONINGTON became part of the Warship Preservation Trust collection in 2002 and was moved to Vittoria Dock, Birkenhead, alongside HMS PLYMOUTH (Cert No 620) and LANDFALL (LCT-7074 Cert No 713). She was open to the public until the Trust closed in 2006, when she becamse the property of Mersey Docks and Harbour Company, following which she was laid up and deteriorated rapidly, particularly her wooden deck. As of March 2011, she has been moved from Vittoria Dock to Gillrook Basin undergoing restoration.

Previous names

  1. 1954 – 1958HMS Humber

Subsequent developments

June 2012: A Sustainability Award of £500 was made from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships. This was not taken up. Source: National Historic Ships.

 

Key dates

  1. 1953 Built in Beverley, Yorkshire by Cook, Welton and Gemmell as a minesweeper and launched by Mrs W G John, the wife of the Director of Naval Constructors
  2. 1954 Completed, renamed HMS HUMBER and joined the 101st Minesweeping Squadron in the RNVR Humber Division.  During this period she won the Thornycroft Trophy for minesweeping excellence against competition from both regular and reserve units
  3. 1958 Reverted to her original name, HMS BRONINGTON, rejoined the Fleet and served in various Minesweeping Squadrons
  4. 1963 Conversion to a minehunter which included the fitting of an enclosed bridge, a tripod mast and the latest sonar
  5. 1965 Re-commissioned as part of the 5th Minesweeping Squadron based at HMS VERNON, Portsmouth
  6. 1965-1973 Duties around the coast of Britain, north-west Europe and Scandinavia
  7. 1974 Major refit in Gibraltar
  8. 1976 Returned to the Forth for further service in home waters in the 1st Mine Counter Measures Squadron.  Commanded by HRH The Prince of Wales and visited, during a visit to the Pool of London, by HM The Queen, HM The Queen Mother and HRH Pr
  9. 1980s Deployed to the Mediterranean as part of the 2nd Mine Counter Measures Squadron
  10. 1983 Deployed to the NATO Standing Naval Force Channel and later employed as a Fishery Protection Vessel
  11. 1988 Paid off in Portsmouth after more than 30 years service
  12. 1989 Purchased by the Bronington Trust, a  charity dedicated to her preservation and display to the public, and removed to Manchester
  13. 1992 Opened to the public at Salford Quays
  14. 2002 Became part of the Warship Preservation Trust collection and moved to Vittoria Dock, Birkenhead
  15. 2006 The Trust closed and she became the property of the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board (Company) and laid up, but deteriorated rapidly
  16. 2011 Still in Vittoria Dock

Reports

Visit date: 5- 6 July 2007

Team: Simon Stephens (SS) Paula Palmer (PP) Eric Kentley (EK) (6th only)

Location: Afloat in Vittoria Dock, Duke Street, Birkenhead Weather: 5 July: wet windy. 6 July: fair, windy

Contact(s): Steve Hardcastle (SH), Mersey Docks & Harbour Company Context / purpose of visit The Mersey Docks & Harbour Company (MDHC) has notified National Historic Ships of the intention to Deconstruct HMS BRONINGTON. This visit was arranged in order to undertake a visual survey and assessment of fabric prior to Deconstruction, to make appropriate recommendations on how the vessel is to be recorded before and during Deconstruction, and to identify those elements of the ship to be retained either as whole sections or individual parts. Methodology / narrative SS and PP were met at Liverpool Lime Street station by SH and taken to Vittoria Dock. On arrival, they were given a guided tour by SH and a colleague. Safety issues (for example slippery decks and the absence of power on-board) were identified along with how to access locked and enclosed spaces both above and below decks. SS and PP were then given a full set of keys and safety equipment (hard hats, disposable boiler suits and latex gloves) and left to carry out the record survey. Stand-by on-shore contacts were provided. A work base was set up in the bridge which provided the space needed for laying out plans. An on-the-spot risk assessment was undertaken (to complement the pre-visit assessment completed beforehand) and a reconnaissance of the ship carried out. Each compartment was studied on the plans, then physically inspected and the plan marked where any features were missing. Each compartment was then photographed and videoed, with notes entered in the record logbook. The ship was worked from the highest point downwards, and by the end of Day 1, the bridge, chartroom, wheel house, operations room, fxl, CO’s cabin, First Lieutenant’s cabin, wireless room, radar room and galley had been recorded. EK arrived on the evening of 5 July. Work recommenced 0830 on the 6th July. EK was briefed on safety issues, and the survey programme agreed. PP & EK finished the survey of the accommodation, etc. and SS continued to video-record. The remainder of the cabins and crew accommodation, petty officers’ mess, engines, tank room (now an exhibition space including a model) and divers’ changing room, were all recorded. Exterior images were also taken. In all, over 500 digital images were taken plus 1 ½ hours of video. Key findings The vessel is listing to starboard, attributed by SH to the build-up of rainwater, despite being regularly pumped out. However on the day there was no evidence of large amounts of water in the vessel which had been pumped out ahead of the visit. No mention of listing is made in the surveyor’s report on the ship to MDHC undertaken in October 2006. The foredeck, and bridge deck are covered with plywood, but elsewhere the planks are exposed. It is clear that the decks are no longer watertight they are sodden and have weed growth. All areas conform to the general arrangement plans. There has been a substantial amount of water ingress in the cabins on the upper deck which have blown floors. Nevertheless this accommodation appears to have retained most of its fittings (including switches, lighting, fuse boxes other service fittings etc), although with substantial damage and water staining. Most but not all mattresses have been removed. There are files from the Bronington Trust, ships’ badges and even uniforms in the lower deck accommodation. No structural alterations appear to have been made to those on the plans, apart from the removal of the diesel tanks to create a display space/functions room and the creation of a doorway through a bulkhead to give access to the pantry. Fixtures and fittings marked on the general arrangement drawings all appear to still be in place. There is also a large training model in the functions room.

Conclusions HMS BRONINGTON has suffered from years of under-investment leading to her being in a very poor overall physical state. The laid wooden decks are badly rotted, with plywood having been applied over the originals in many areas in a failed attempt to make them waterproof. Ingress of rain water into the accommodation is significant, resulting in damage to the interiors and threatening the ship’s stability. The hull fixings are corroding and the frames starting to disconnect from the hull. The cost of the restoration works necessary to stabilise degradation and to restore the ship for public access will be very high. Having taken ownership of the Warships Trust’s vessels by default, MDHC, supported by National Historic Ships, has spent the last year trying to find a long-term solution for this ship, but no organisation or individual has come forward with a credible plan. As there appears to be no organisation with the resources to take over the vessel and provide a sustainable future for her, Deconstruction - preservation by record - is the only option available for HMS Bronington. The ‘Ton’ Class Minesweepers have been well documented over the years: full plans exist, and in Bronington’s case publications have also been issued. Therefore Deconstruction can take a limited form, rather than the full recording and retention of all elements of the ship which would be necessary for vessels where little is known. Given the ship’s remarkable state of completeness, there are large elements - the bridge in particular, but perhaps the bridge/chartroom /wheelhouse/ops room block - which could be removed in their entirety and transferred to a museum. Therefore museums should be given priority in acquiring full sections of the ship over organisations interested in acquiring specific fixtures and fittings for integration into their own vessels. However, once decisions have been made on the larger sections, it is a valid approach to respond to historic vessel owners interested in acquiring fixtures and fittings. This should be encouraged and managed in a controlled way. National Historic Ships recognises that Deconstruction (even on such a well-documented vessel such as BRONINGTON) is a costly exercise and the opportunity to recoup expenditure through the responsible sale of fittings to bona fide historic vessels is an acceptable process. Source: National Historic Ships

Bibliography

  1. 1986 HMS Bronington - Clare, Captain Roy
  2. 1993 International Register of Historic Ships - Brouwer, Norman J
If you are the owner of the vessel and would like to provide more details or updated information please contact info@nationalhistoricships.org.uk

parrel:

a rope, chain or iron collar which attaches the yard to the mast but which allows vertical movement