single pixel
Menu One
single pixel
Menu Two
single pixel
Menu Three
single pixel
Menu Four
single pixel
Menu Five
single pixel
Menu Seven
single pixel
Menu Six
single pixel
Menu Eight
single pixel
Menu Nine
single pixel

single pixel
Facebook icon

HMS Calypso fonds, 1881-1952

43 cm of textual records

Administrative history

HMS Calypso was a 2814 ton Third Class British naval cruiser, laid down at Chatham dockyard in 1881 and completed in 1883. The sister ship of HMS Calliope, Calypso had an iron frame covered with steel plating which was also covered with two thicknesses of plank. In October 1902, the vessel was assigned by the British Admiralty as a training ship for the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve. On arrival in St. John's Calypso was stripped down and used as a training ship. The vessel remained in St. John's until 1914, when it was used to protect Newfoundland shores and shipping during World War One. In 1916 Calypso was renamed HMS Briton and remained in that role until 1922 when it was declared surplus and was sold to a local merchant, A. H. Murray and Company, where it was used to store coal and salt. She now lies at Embree, near Lewisporte.

The Newfoundland Division of the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) was established by the Newfoundland Government in 1902 to strengthen Britain's naval resources in the area. In the same year the British Admiralty assigned HMS Calypso to be used as a training ship for members of the Reserve. The intention was to take around 600 reservists on strength but that number was only reached once. With the declaration of war in 1914, numbers were increased to over 1000 and by war's end in 1918, the number exceeded 2000 serving reservists. During the war naval reservists were dispersed in ships and shore establishments throughout the Royal Navy and Royal Canadian Navy, where they were renowned for their small boat skills and fearlessness. The Royal Naval Reserve was decommissioned at the end of 1920.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of records relating to the construction of H.M.S. Calypso and records created while she was commissioned with the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve. It includes three journals relating to the construction of the vessel, including details of the vessel's construction kept by J.H. Lovett, carpenter at Chatham Dockyard, 1881; a book of weights for the vessel, 1883-84; and detailed sketches of the machinery aboard the vessel, 1883. Each journal contains detailed hand drawn and painted illustrations. Other files include two pieces of correspondence, one of which is a letter from David Murray to the editor of Shipbuilding and Shipping Record regarding the construction and history of the vessel, 2 Aug. 1952.

The fonds also includes drill registers created while the vessel was used to train members of the Royal Naval Reserve. These list each individual and the period of their drill, the vessel drilled on and remarks, 1904-15. Also included is a complete list of reservists, ca. 1900-16; gunnery log and progress books, 1907-16; Calypso deck logbooks, 1912-14; Briton deck logbooks, 1919-22; regulations concerning summary punishments and character, conduct, badges, etc., 1910-13; a register of discharge from Royal Naval Reserve embarkation to troop ship from 18 November 1914 to 2 December 1916; and day books recording liquor accounts 1919-23, one of which was overwritten to record salt shipments.


Title based on the earliest known name of the vessel.
The construction journals belonged to David Murray, partner in A.H. Murray & Co. and remained in his possession until they were turned over to his daughter Jean Murray. The drill registers and deck logs were included in the A.H. Murray fonds and were removed in 1980. They were acquired from A. H. (Bill) Crosbie.
No restrictions.
Copyright expired.
Maritime History Archive finding aid 108.
Other materials relating to the fonds include the Newfoundland Sealing Album (PF-345, Maritime History Archive)

Location: Bank 71, shelf 6

List of volumes in the collection:

Box 1

Deck Logs - 5 volumes
Daily report of distance run, standard compass courses, deviation, wind direction, force, weather, state of the sea, height of barometer, temperatures and remarks.

May 1912 - April 1914               HMS Calypso
May 1914 - October 1914          HMS Calypso
August 1919 - February 1920    HMS Briton
February 1920 - July 1920         HMS Briton
January 1922 - March 1922       HMS Briton

Box 2 and Box 2A

Drill Registers - 2 volumes
Includes number and letter of the person's certificate, surname, christian name, rank, age, period of drill(Month and days), target practice, remarks on general conduct and offenses (if any), clothing issued and general remarks.

1904 - 1913                               HMS Calypso
1913 - 1915                               HMS Calypso

Box 3

Complete list of Reservists - 1 volume, ca. 1900-1916
An alphabetical register of R.N.R. trainees including certificate number, name, religion, next of kin and address.

Register of Discharge from Royal Naval Reserve / embarkation to troop ship - 1 volume, 18 Nov 1914 - 2 Dec 1916
Trainees names listed numerically by certificate number followed by surname, christian name, age, height, address, date presented for drill, year of drill, date of discharge, number of days drilled, qualifications, name of ship, when discharged and remarks.

Gunnery Log and Progress Books - 2 volumes, 1907-1911, 1911-1916
The logbooks provide a daily record of drills and exercises, and with some references to ammunition expenditures.

Regulations Book - 1 volume
Regulations as to I. Summary of Punishments and II. Character, Conduct, Service Certificates, Good Conduct Medals and Badges, etc. Published by the Admiralty, 1910.

Letters - 2 files
Original letter dated 9 September 1901 from Fleet Engineer W.S. Stribling on HMS Calypso at Devonport concerning leaking of the main condenser discharge valves when the vessel was docked on 5th September [1901].
Copy of a letter written to The Editor, Shipbuilding and Shipping Record, London by David H. Murray of A.H. Murray 2 August 1952 outlining the history of the Calypso.

Box 4

Wine Book - 2 volumes, 1913-1916, 1918-1920
Account of liquor & wine consumed on board HMS Calypso and HMS Briton. Includes monthly totals with debits/credits.

Day Book - 2 volumes, 1918-1920, 1921-1923
Day book used to record daily totals of liquor consumed on board HMS Briton, 1918-1920. The second volume starts out as a liquor day book and then is overwritten to record salt shipments delivered by HMS Briton, 1921-1923.

Box 5

Construction Journal - 1 volume, 1881
Provides details of the vessel's construction kept by J.H. Lovett, carpenter at Chatham Dockyard, 1881.

Book of Weights - 1 volume, 1883-1884
A register of weights recording the date, draught of water, name of articles, total weight on steelyard, weight of sling, etc., number of pieces weighed and net weight.

Sketches of Machinery - 1 volume, 1883
Detailed sketches of the machinery aboard the vessel with detailed hand drawn and painted illustrations.

single pixel single pixel
single pixel single pixel single pixel single pixel single pixel single pixel
single pixel

© 2003 - 2012 Maritime History Archive, Memorial University