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#394960 - 14th Mar 2010 7:19pm Dr Livingstone.
bert1 Offline

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Registered: 27th Nov 2008
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In 1858 the famous explorer Dr Livingstone came to Birkenhead to view the trials of a small paddle vessel built by Lairds. It was the first vessel ever built in the new material used for shipbuilding., that material being Steel. The vessel named MA ROBERT, the African name for Mrs Livingstone. The MA ROBERT was used for his expedition to the Zambesi in the same year.


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Livingstone.jpg

ma robert.jpg

ma robert lairds.jpg


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#394970 - 14th Mar 2010 7:59pm Re: Dr Livingstone. [Re: bert1]
Capt_America Online   content
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The journey to West Africa must have been as exciting as going up the river.
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#395101 - 15th Mar 2010 9:49am Re: Dr Livingstone. [Re: Capt_America]
w10694 Offline
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Registered: 31st Dec 2008
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They often used to ship these craft out in sections, and finally assemble them when they got to site.

Didn't stop him getting lost and Stanley having to go and find him !

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#658850 - 27th Jan 2012 12:57am David Livingstone's Laird-built ship Ma Robert
yoller Online   content
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Registered: 7th Dec 2008
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The first programme in a new series called The Last Explorers was shown on BBC-2 last Sunday (January 21). I taped it and have only just watched it – hence this late heads-up.

It’s worth seeing for anyone interested in the History of Laird’s, telling the story of the missionary David Livingstone’s expedition in the Ma Robert - a vessel specially built for him by John Laird at the Birkenhead yard in 1858.

An experimental craft, it was the first steel-hulled paddle-wheel steamer and was shipped to Africa in prefabricated sections in the hold of a larger ship to be assembled on the Zambesi.

However, it was not a success. The Ma Robert drew a draught of only 3ft, but even that proved too deep for some sections of the river. It also turned out to be badly underpowered and was dubbed The Asthmatic.

I seem to remember reading that David Livingstone came to Birkenhead to take delivery of the ship and that Livingstone Street was so named in commemoration of his visit.

The programme, presented by Neil Oliver, does not mention that the ship was built at Laird's.

If anyone wants to catch it, this episode of The Last Explorers can be seen on BBC’s iPlayer until Sunday night.


Edited by yoller (27th Jan 2012 12:59am)

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#658855 - 27th Jan 2012 2:25am Re: David Livingstone's Laird-built ship Ma Robert [Re: yoller]
Elizabeth Online   Reading
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Registered: 28th Jul 2011
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Loc: Prenton, Wirral
It's something my husband would love to watch as his Dad worked for many years at Laird's but sadly because we live in USA we wouldn't be able to see it on BBC iplayer. I've never understood why just because you don't live in a country you can't watch something on the internet from there. I've tried to listen to various UK radio stations online too but get the same message all the time saying I can't due to location frown

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#658862 - 27th Jan 2012 5:11am Re: David Livingstone's Laird-built ship Ma Robert [Re: Elizabeth]
bert1 Offline

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Registered: 27th Nov 2008
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#658960 - 27th Jan 2012 3:20pm Re: David Livingstone's Laird-built ship Ma Robert [Re: Elizabeth]
CVCVCV Offline
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Registered: 4th May 2010
Posts: 1452
Loc: ex Wallasey now Atlanta GA USA
Yes Elizabeth, I get that too and can never understand it. Defeats the whole object of the "World-Wide Web", it strikes me...!!

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#658962 - 27th Jan 2012 3:32pm Re: David Livingstone's Laird-built ship Ma Robert [Re: bert1]
poodlepup Offline
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Registered: 6th Oct 2010
Posts: 3973
Loc: wirral
Wasn't there a film about Dr Livingstone,some scenes were shot in Hamilton Square,can't remember what it was called?
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#659194 - 28th Jan 2012 12:15am Re: Dr Livingstone. [Re: bert1]
yoller Online   content
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Registered: 7th Dec 2008
Posts: 461
Loc: Cheshire
Attached is an extract about the Ma Robert from Men of Iron: The Story of Cammell Laird Shipbuilders, by D Hollett (1992).


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robert1.jpg

robert2.jpg



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#660066 - 30th Jan 2012 8:52pm Re: Dr Livingstone. [Re: yoller]
Geekus Offline
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Registered: 26th Sep 2010
Posts: 1195
Loc: Wiki Wirral
The naming of the vessel Ma Robert may have had more to do with Scottish tradition rather than any African influence. It was named in honour of Mary (Livingstone's wife) mother of their first born son 'Robert'.

There's some great info and further photographs on the following link:

http://www.ecoelements.co.uk/vf/vfpages/discovery/second.html

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#660962 - 1st Feb 2012 1:30pm Re: Dr Livingstone. [Re: Geekus]
marty99fred Offline

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Registered: 11th Mar 2009
Posts: 464
Loc: Pensby
The account of the origins of the name of Livingstone's steam launch come from his own writings where he records: "Those who speak this language [Sichuana or Bechuana, now called Tswana] have a curious custom of putting 'Ma' and 'Ra' before the name of the eldest son, and of calling his parents by these newly compounded names respectively. Thus they call Mrs Livingstone Ma-Robert, ie the mother of Robert..."

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