Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company

Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company was a British engineering company based on the River Tyne at Wallsend, North East England.

Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company
SuccessorC. A. Parsons and Company
HeadquartersNewcastle upon Tyne, UK
Key people
Charles Algernon Parsons


Charles Algernon Parsons founded the company in 1897 with £500,000 of capital. It specialised in building the steam turbine engines that he had invented for marine use.[1] The first vessel powered by a Parsons turbine was Turbinia, launched in 1894.[2] The successful demonstration of this vessel led to the creation of the company and the building of engines for the first two turbine-powered destroyers for the Royal Navy, HMS Viper and HMS Cobra, launched in 1899. Although both these vessels came to grief, the new engines were not to blame, and the Admiralty was convinced. Parsons' son became a director in the company and was replaced during the First World War by his daughter Rachel Parsons.

The rotating blade assembly of a Parsons marine turbine
Turbine reduction gearing of Vespasian, 1908

Parsons turbines powered the Royal Navy's first turbine powered battleship, HMS Dreadnought, and the World's first turbine ocean liners, RMS Victorian and Virginian. 73,000 horsepower (54,000 kW) Parsons turbines powered the 31,000 GRT Cunard express ocean liners RMS Mauretania and RMS Lusitania.

All early marine turbines drove their propellers directly. Parsons developed helical reduction gearing for marine turbines, and in 1908 converted the cargo ship Vespasian to turbine propulsion with reduction gearing.[3]

Four direct-drive Parsons turbines powered battleship USS Arizona. They were designed to produce a total of 34,000 horsepower (25,000 kW), but achieved only 33,376 horsepower (24,888 kW) in Arizona's sea trials, when she met her designed speed of 21 knots (39 km/h).[4]

The Royal Navy, Royal Canadian Navy and Royal Australian Navy used Parsons turbines on their Tribal-class destroyers. The Invincible-class battlecruisers all used Parsons propulsion systems.

In 1944, Parsons was one of 19 companies which formed the 'Parsons and Marine Engineering Turbine Research and Development Association', usually known as Pametrada.

The destroyer HMS Glamorgan, launched in 1964,[2] had a Parsons propulsion system.

The Cunard liner Queen Elizabeth 2, launched in 1969, had Pametrada turbines.

The company was absorbed into C. A. Parsons and Company and survives in Heaton, Newcastle as part of Siemens, a German industrial conglomerate.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Chronology of Charles Parsons Life Archived 25 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b HMS Glamorgan: the first two years (PDF). p. 4 – via Axford's Abode.
  3. ^ Parsons, Charles A (1911). The Steam Turbine. The Rede Lecture. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 48–53 – via Wikisource.
  4. ^ Breyer, Siegfried (1973). Battleships and Battle Cruisers, 1905–1970. Garden City, NY: Doubleday. p. 214. OCLC 702840.

Further readingEdit

  • Johnston, Ian; Buxton, Ian (2013). The Battleship Builders - Constructing and Arming British Capital Ships. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-027-6.