Oliver W Lang


born April 1807

'. . . the proved ability and tried skill of Mr. Oliver Lang, who possesses the

union of great constructive ability and high scientific acquirements, as has

been proved by his designs for some of the finest ships in the navy . . .'

(House of Commons Debate, February 23, 1863)

 Sir John Pakington (1799-1880), M.P. for Droitwich, 1837-74, Secretary of State for the Colonies 1852,

First Lord of the Admiralty 1858-9, First Lord of the Admiralty 1866-7, Secretary of State for War 1867-8,

Baron Hampton 1874-80, Baron Harrington 1880


Christening: 12 APR 1807,  Saint Nicholas, Rochester, Kent, England

Father: OLIVER LANG,  Mother: SALLY

The United service magazine, Volume 26, Part 1, 1838

 Arthur William Alsager Pollock

THE AGE, December 16, 1838


On the 10th inst., at Stoke Damerel, Devon, Oliver William Lang, Esq.,

to Louisa, eldest daughter of Thomas Briggs, Esq.

THE AGE, January 6, 1839




            120                                          Church and State Review                        September 1, 1863

August 12. -- Mr. Oliver Lang, the master shipbuilder of Chatham dockyard, resigns his situation,

in consequence of being superseded by the appointment of Mr. J. W. Reed as chief constructor

of the navy.

Year-book of facts in science and art, 1868, John Timbs


O. W. Lang, naval architect. He received his professional education

under the auspices of his father, Mr Oliver Lang, formerly master-

shipwright of Woolwich Dockyard; and during the early part of his

career, assisted him in the construction of all the ships he so

successfully designed for Her Majesty's Navy, among which were the

Black Eagle, Medea, Niger,
and Terrible, the latter the finest paddle

war steamship ever produced, and also the Royal Albert.

In 1828 he entered the service at Woolwich Dockyard as an experienced

naval architect, and in 1831 was appointed to assist (the then) Captain

Symonds in the construction of ships of war. In 1837 he was appointed

to Devonport, and in 1843 to Deptford, to re-establish that yard. In

the following year he joined Chatham Dockyard as assistant master-

shipwright, and in 1853 he was promoted to be master-shipwright at

Pembroke, where he built the royal yacht Victoria and Albert. His last

appointment was in 1858, to Chatham, and he remained there until his

retirement in 1862, when he was the senior master-shipwright in the

service by more than six years. In the mercantile navy, Mr Lang's

reputation was at an early age very great, and continued steadily to

increase up to the present time, he having met with universal success

in every undertaking. At the age of eighteen he designed the Ruby for

the Gravesend Company, which was subsequently purchased by the

General Steam Navigation Company, and was the fastest steamer on

the Thames for many years.

Twenty four years ago, in 1845, the Porcupine and Spitfire steam vessels

were designed and built by him in Deptford Dockyard. They were both

very successful; but his reputation was chiefly established by the Garland

and Banshee, both built from his designs and under his superintendence,

and the latter, especially, obtained a world wide fame. These vessels

were exposed to a most severe competition from his opponents, and so

complete was their success that Mr Lang was ordered to design and

build in Chatham Dockyard the Vivid, for the Dover station (when the

service was performed by the Admiralty), and the Elfin, despatch-yacht

for Her Majesty. All these vessels were built the diagonal principle which

was introduced by him. Subsequently to this, he, in 1859, designed and

built the Nankin, 50-gun frigate, for the experimental squadron; but from

some unexplained reason, she was at once put into ordinary in Chatham

Harbour, and not commissioned until 1854, when she beat every ship she

fell in with, and was officially reported to be "very easy, stiff under

canvas, a most excellent sea-boat, and in all respects a complete man-


In the great revolution in the building of ships of war, Mr. Lang played a

conspicuous part. A short time after the drawing for building the

was received at Chatham, he submitted, through the captain-

superintendent, a design for giving her a flatter floor (one exactly similar

to that proposed for his iron cased frigate in 1859), and increasing her

displacement sufficiently to allow the armour plating to be carried all

round the ship, instead of only amidships, as then intended. This

alteration was adopted, as to the flatter floor and increased displacement;

but, instead of completely armour-plating her, the Admiralty ordered her

to have a belt of armour plating at the water-line only, as at that time

ordered to be fitted to the Enterprise, Research, and Favourite, by which

the rudder-head, tiller, steering- wheel, &c., were left unprotected.

To obviate this, Mr Lang again proposed to armour-plate the Achilles at

the fore and after ends as high as the main-deck, undertaking, at the

same time, not to increase the weight of the hull; in fact, by doing away

with the armour-plated bulkheads, &c., he saved 12 tons, and completely

protected the rudder- head, tiller, steering-wheel, and everything on the

lower-deck. The Admiralty, after testing the correctness of his calculation

of weights, adopted this plan in the Achilles, and afterwards in many other

vessels. While at Chatham Mr Lang also built the Royal Oak, the first at

sea of our converted wooden armour-plated ships by many months, and

thus (the Achilles being the first iron ship ever built in the establishment)

he was the pioneer of iron shipbuilding in Her Majesty's dockyards.