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Marine Walk


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Reading the article "Making a Model of the USS Pennsylvania" in the latest NRG Journal I came across this: "The use of a marine walk to access the bowsprit ..."

Help me out here. What is a "marine walk."  Google hasn't helped me out on this one.


Ron Gove

Edited by ragove
typo corrected
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Greetings Ron;


The marine walk is a tapered grating which runs from the top of the beakhead bulkhead forward onto the bowsprit.  It was presumably to give a good vantage point for a marine sentry when in port,  or for several marines in battle. 


HMS Victory has a good example.  Look for pictures of her bows,  and you will easily spot this.


All the best,


Mark P

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This might also help, from Wikipedia.  maybe in layman terms or slang it was called marine walk


A quarter gallery is an architectural feature of the stern of a sailing ship from around the 16th to the 19th century. Quarter galleries are a kind of balcony, typically placed on the sides of the sterncastle, the high, tower-like structure at the back of a ship that housed the officer's quarters. They functioned primarily as latrines for the ship's officers, and in inclement weather they also afforded those officers a view of the forward sails of the ship without having to go outside.[1] On certain vessels and under certain conditions, the quarter galleries could serve as a firing platform for the ship's marines and sharpshooters during boarding actions. The galleries also provided a structure that was ideally suited for attaching decoration and often bore carved wooden sculptures, particularly in the 17th century.

As small, wing-like extensions of the stern, the quarter galleries were difficult to secure to the hull and in rough weather were sometimes torn from it completely.[2] Quarter galleries were only ever fitted on vessels of war.[3]

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Quarter galleries: "they also afforded those officers a view of the forward sails of the ship without having to go outside"


That is another statement that I would like to have contemporary evidence for. Seen that the windows glass in the wrecks are rather not clear and also the angle of viewing is not the best, the main sail hiding most of the other rigging, I have my strong doubts about that fact. Reminds me on the red color to hide the blood.


Also seen that french vessels usually had mostly fake windows in the Galleries, I sometime doubt that english ships had that much glass in the back as seen on the models that had to impress the nobles for budget reasons. But that goes beyond the original marines walk ...



Edited by dafi
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  • 4 months later...

Distasteful as it may seem, it's no coincidence that the Marine's Walk was directly above the crew's latrines. The heads were out of sight from the rest of the ship, considering the size of the crew, there weren't many to go round.

Presumably a duty Marine was there to monitor aspects of discipline. Doesn't take a lot of imagining.

As for the quarter galleries; I'd be surprised if any meaningful view of anything shipboard was visible, let alone the set of the sails. What we accept as glass today as probably very different back then. I have read it was quite opaque, similar to lightly sand-blasted glass. Few if any modern models reflect this, if you'll pardon the pun.

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13 minutes ago, shipman said:

What we accept as glass today as probably very different back then. I have read it was quite opaque, similar to lightly sand-blasted glass. Few if any modern models reflect this, if you'll pardon the pun.

I spent 12 years working in a Colonial American house museum.  http://kenmore.org/ The house was built in the 1770s. Most of the glass in the 16 large windows in that house still have the original glass. Some of the panes were replaced in the 1880s. It was easy to tell which glass was original because it looked much better than the 1880s glass. It was as clear and transparent as any glass you would see today. The 1880s glass had a number of blemishes and bubbles. It was still clear however.


Cheers -


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Greetings John. I have no doubt you are correct.

However, restoring a house today, that may have been restored umpteen times over 250 years, how do you judge from what period the glass was made?

Having the misfortune to be living in England I have the delight of being able to see plenty of buildings, some of which can be up to a thousand years old. I can't remember seeing one that had anything other than clear glass. That doesn't mean any of it is original. Certainly during the Georgian period, posh Palladian houses would have nothing but the best.

Look up Walter Wilkinson's 'Puppet' books; between the wars, each summer, he dragged a wheelbarrow, upon which was his 'Punch and Judy' show, all over the British Isles; an itinerant entertainer of sorts (no tv then). One of his journeys took him within 10 miles of where I am now. He describes accepting the hospitality of a family living in an old cottage on the 'Great North Road'. He points out that none of the windows had any glass fitted. Instead they were fitted with oiled heavy paper. That was about 20 years before I was born, so not long ago it could confidently be said to be within living memory. The cottages made way for a road widening scheme post war.

Walt, having recently been mislead myself  by dubious 'facts' gleaned from Wikipedia I would suggest anything there should be cross referenced with more 'reliable' sources.

Dafi, how's my order for your etch ringbolts and hooks coming along? (sent you ANOTHER e-mail earlier today).

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I am no expert on glass or much of anything for that matter! During the time I was there, the house underwent a major restoration and a great deal of effort was put into determining what parts of the house were original. There is also a well-documented chain of ownership of that house. The majority of the window sashes were determined to be original to the house. There was at least one replaced after the American Civil War because a cannonball penetrated the house, largely destroying at least one window. In any case, the experts were able to determine which panes were original and which were replaced in the 1880s. Exactly how, I can't say. Perhaps through examination of the paint and glazing around them or perhaps some sort of examination of the glass itself. As best I can recall, they didn't remove any of the panes during the restoration but the restoration started about 2 years before I went to work there. Window glass in the 1700s was made in a different way than glass made in the 1800s so it had a different appearance. A web search on "dating window glass" will turn up a good bit of interesting material.

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