From modest beginnings, Britain rose throughout the nineteenth century to become the greatest shipbuilding nation in the world, yet by the end of the following century the British merchant fleet ranked just 38 in the world. The glory days of sail had given way to the introduction of the steam age. Traditional shipwrights had railed against new industrial methods resulting in the infamous demarcation disputes. Talented men, like Brunel and Armstrong, had always sought change and development, but too many shipbuilders were relying on old technologies. From building mighty battleships and extravagant ocean liners, the nation became complacent and its yards were eventually no longer as innovative as their foreign competitors. In the twenty-first century, British shipbuilding has shrunk to a mere fraction of its former size and has become almost totally dependent on government contracts.
The popularity of and fascination with this subject has prompted a new edition of Anthony Burton's successful book. With fresh images and a new, final chapter, the story of the rise and cataclysmic fall of British shipbuilding has been brought right up to date.