Seppings, Robert

SUBJECT AREA: Ports and shipping
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b. 11 December 1767 near Fakenham, Norfolk, England
d. 25 April 1840 Taunton, Somerset, England
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English naval architect who as Surveyor to the Royal Navy made fundamental improvements in wooden ship construction.
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After the death of his father, Seppings at the age of 14 moved to his uncle's home in Plymouth, where shortly after (1782) he was apprenticed to the Master Shipwright. His indentures were honoured fully by 1789 and he commenced his climb up the professional ladder of the ship construction department of the Royal Dockyards. In 1797 he became Assistant Master Shipwright at Plymouth, and in 1804 he was appointed Master Shipwright at Chatham. In 1813 Sir William Rule, Surveyor to the Navy, retired and the number of surveyors was increased to three, with Seppings being appointed the junior. Later he was to become Surveyor to the Royal Navy, a post he held until his retirement in 1832. Seppings introduced many changes to ship construction in the early part of the nineteenth century. It is likely that the introduction of these innovations required positive and confident management, and their acceptance tells us much about Seppings. The best-known changes were the round bow and stern in men-of-war and the alteration to framing systems.
The Seppings form of diagonal bracing ensured that wooden ships, which are notorious for hogging (i.e. drooping at the bow and stern), were stronger and therefore able to be built with greater length. This change was complemented by modifications to the floors, frames and futtocks (analogous to the ribs of a ship). These developments were to be taken further once iron composite construction (wooden sheathing on iron frames) was adopted in the United Kingdom mid-century.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
FRS. Knighted (by the Prince Regent aboard the warship Royal George) 1819.
Bibliography
Throughout his life Seppings produced a handful of pamphlets and published letters, as well as two papers that were published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society (1814 and 1820).
Further Reading
A description of the thinking in the Royal Navy at the beginning of the nineteenth century can be found in: J.Fincham, 1851, A History of Naval Architecture, London; B.Lavery, 1989, Nelson's Navy. The Ships, Men and Organisation 1793–1815, London: Conway.
T.Wright, 1982, "Thomas Young and Robert Seppings: science and ship construction in the early nineteenth century", Transactions of the Newcomen Society 53:55–72.
Seppings's work can be seen aboard the frigate Unicorn, launched in Chatham in 1824 and now on view to the public at Dundee. Similarly, his innovations in ship construction can be readily understood from many of the models at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
FMW

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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  • Seppings — Sir Robert Seppings (* 1767 in Fakenham (Norfolk); † 25. September 1840 in Taunton) war ein britischer Schiffskonstrukteur. 1782 begann er eine Ausbildung in der Marinewerft von Plymouth. Im Jahr 1800, als er zum Master Shipwright Assistant… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Robert Seppings — Sir Robert Seppings, FRS (1767 September 25, 1840) was an English naval architect.Seppings was born at Fakenham, Norfolk, and in 1782 was apprenticed in Plymouth dockyard. In 1800, when he had risen to be master shipwright assistant in the yard,… …   Wikipedia

  • Robert Seppings — Sir Robert Seppings (* 1767 in Fakenham (Norfolk); † 25. September 1840 in Taunton) war ein britischer Schiffskonstrukteur. 1782 begann er eine Ausbildung in der Marinewerft von Plymouth. Im Jahr 1800, als er zum Master Shipwright Assistant… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Sir Robert Seppings — (* 1767 in Fakenham (Norfolk); † 25. September 1840 in Taunton) war ein britischer Schiffskonstrukteur. 1782 begann er eine Ausbildung in der Marinewerft von Plymouth. Im Jahr 1800, als er zum Master Shipwright Assistant aufstieg, erfand er eine… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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