Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company

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

Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company
SuccessorC. A. Parsons and Company
HeadquartersNewcastle upon Tyne, UK


The company was founded by Charles Algernon Parsons in 1897 with £500,000 of capital, and specialised in building the steam turbine engines that he had invented for naval use.[1] The first ship to use a Parsons propulsion system was Turbinia, launched in 1894;[2] the successful demonstration of this vessel led to the creation of the company and the subsequent construction of the engines for the first two turbine-powered destroyers for the 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. His 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 marine Parsons turbine

The Royal Navy's first turbine powered battleship, HMS Dreadnought, used turbines made by Parsons and the 31,000 ton Cunard express passenger liners RMS Mauretania and RMS Lusitania were equipped with 73,000 horsepower (54,000 kW) turbine engines made by Parsons.

USS Arizona used four direct-drive Parsons turbines. The turbines were designed to produce a total of 34,000 horsepower (25,000 kW), but achieved only 33,376 horsepower (24,888 kW) during Arizona's sea trials, when she met her designed speed of 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph).[3]

The Royal Navy, along with the Royal Canadian Navy, and Royal Australian Navy, used Parsons turbines on their Tribal-class destroyers.

Turbine reduction gearing of SS Vespasian, c. 1905

The Invincible-class battlecruisers all used propulsion systems manufactured by the company.

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

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

Queen Elizabeth 2 launched in 1969 had Pametrada turbines.

The company was absorbed into C. A. Parsons and Company and survives in the Heaton area of 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: History
  3. ^ Breyer, Siegfried (1973). Battleships and Battle Cruisers, 1905–1970. Garden City, New York: Doubleday. p. 214. OCLC 702840.

Further readingEdit

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