John Laird, British shipbuilder, 1873.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Illustration by Leslie Ward ('Spy') of John Laird, founder of Laird & Sons shipyard in Birkenhead, Wirral. The title, "He built the 'Alabama' and the 'Captain'", refers to the construction by Laird & Sons of the 'Alabama' and the 'Captain' ships. The Alabama, built in 1862, was a Confederate warship which captured and burnt ships in the North Atlantic and intercepted American grain ships bound for Europe. The Captain, built in 1870, was over-rigged and sank in a gale with all but eighteen of the 499 men aboard. The firm of Laird & Sons, however, established a name for itself in the building of structurally sound iron ships which often incorporated innovative technological advances. Their reputation put them at the forefront of the British shipbuilding industry. From the magazine 'Vanity Fair'.