Firing ship's galleys

Marcus C. Smith
21st May 2013, 15:36
COOKING FUEL ON OLD SAILING SHIPS.

A discussion in the pub the other night brought up the subject of cooking fuel on the old sailing ships. Being the only ex-mariner in-situ, the subject was addressed to me and I had to admit to a lack of knowledge (and point out that I'm not as old as they obviously thought me to be)!
I am aware of the cooking arrangements of the time and observed that the Galley stoves were fired by wood before the days of coal and oil and obviously gas and electricity.
I have read many seafaring novels of the era and have occasionally come across brief mention of victualling and ammunitioning of ships in the course of the various narratives but I do not recall mention of “bunkering” firewood for cooking, mundane as it may be! Given the length of those voyages and in the absence of shore visits to replenish supplies there must have been a large amount of cooking fuel required to maintain the galley fires and keep the crews fed.
The question begs, where was all this fuel stored? The requirement would obviously be a “dry” store protected from the elements so I imagine that a large store was integral in the cargo holds/stores but I have never seen a reference to these spaces in any old ship diagrams.
Can anybody enlighten me as to such arrangements? Would it be possible that vegetable or mineral oils were ever used to fire the stoves, since they obviously had oils to burn for lanterns etc?

Robert Hilton
21st May 2013, 16:27
Coal fired stoves on coal burners. Conversion to oil might include the galley stove, or leave it as a coal burner. The interesting part of this question, that I can't answer, would be which companies installed more modern stoves and when?

John Rogers
21st May 2013, 16:33
We are talking about sailing ships are we not. The one that I was on used coal.

narra
30th December 2013, 16:21
I joined Everard' Speciality in 53 as a cat/boy as she just came off the slipway.The crew told me i would have to be cook untill one joined.I tried to light stove several time's thinking it was gas, blew it up ,ship had to go back to slipway to sort galley out it was oil .end of my stint of cooking ,I was allso on a tanker the Flisvos/ex/1921/british trader/1st of 3 named British Trader; she was a coal burning galley.Cheer's Narra

Ian Beattie
30th December 2013, 17:15
A few years ago I was in the Ship museum in Amsterdam where they started re-enacting what was done on the reconstructed "Amsterdam". One of the displays was cooking and although the cooker was started with wood, coal was used as the main heating source I was informed, this was the way it was done in 1700's. But, alas I didn't think to ask where these items were stored, the other thing that was quite noticable was the size of the officers bunks which were about 4ft 6inches top to bottom and that the reason being men were very much smaller than the eqivalent guy today.

_______________

useeimbutunoseeim Bass

K Morley
30th December 2013, 21:43
Having served on the PAMIR our galley fire was coal and was burning 24/7.
The SS Raranga was 20 fires the galley coal, as trimmer it was my job to bunker the galley with clean small roundy, the cook (baker)was never happy. The good old days Ken

john blythe
1st January 2014, 00:57
Never used a wood burner !! But my god i used a oil burner on the Eithel Everard. First day i left for about 1hour to find a orange glowing block call a stove.It took about 4 hours to cool down . I would think that a wood burner was the same

Pilot mac
1st January 2014, 16:25
I served on an old passenger ship built in 1946 and galleys were coal fired. I can remember the coal being stowed in a large bunker at Tween Deck level. Coal trucks would arrive and a gang of labour would carry it in baskets to the bunker booby hatch via a rickety wooden gangway (similar to loading bananas!) . Cant remember exact dimensions of the bunker but big enough for two apprentices to walk round in. The Mate used to send us down there regularly for stowaway searches in amongst the vermin and cockroaches.

regards
Dave

Stephen J. Card
1st January 2014, 17:37
COOKING FUEL ON OLD SAILING SHIPS.

A discussion in the pub the other night brought up the subject of cooking fuel on the old sailing ships. Being the only ex-mariner in-situ, the subject was addressed to me and I had to admit to a lack of knowledge (and point out that I'm not as old as they obviously thought me to be)!
I am aware of the cooking arrangements of the time and observed that the Galley stoves were fired by wood before the days of coal and oil and obviously gas and electricity.
I have read many seafaring novels of the era and have occasionally come across brief mention of victualling and ammunitioning of ships in the course of the various narratives but I do not recall mention of “bunkering” firewood for cooking, mundane as it may be! Given the length of those voyages and in the absence of shore visits to replenish supplies there must have been a large amount of cooking fuel required to maintain the galley fires and keep the crews fed.
The question begs, where was all this fuel stored? The requirement would obviously be a “dry” store protected from the elements so I imagine that a large store was integral in the cargo holds/stores but I have never seen a reference to these spaces in any old ship diagrams.
Can anybody enlighten me as to such arrangements? Would it be possible that vegetable or mineral oils were ever used to fire the stoves, since they obviously had oils to burn for lanterns etc?



Vegetable or mineral was not used for burning in stoves or lantern.

The fuel for stoves would be coal and/or wood.

LAWHILL Bult 1892 four-masted barque. Coal bunker in the deck in the midship's house. Fuel for the Donkey Boiler and for the galley.

HM Ship BLANDFORD 20 guns built c. 1720. The galley was in the forward of the ship and situated in the lower hold. Below the galley with the galley stove was space used for both sail room and coal store.

This information from plans and elevations. In early ships the galley was usually in the lower hold as I mention on BLANDFORD. In later years the galley was moved higher in the upper tween decks and coal and wood usually stored in the lower hold.


Light was from candle in safety lamps.... used candle wax. Probably some whale oil could be used.... but not on a ship full of gun powder!

For sure later ships.. like LAWHILL probably has paraffin lamps.

Sorry can't any much else be of other else!

Stephen

borderreiver
1st January 2014, 19:55
All the old boarder boats had oil fires stoves for all three galleys. (Euopeing ,engine,and deck) it was the junior engine job to light them but passed to the donkey man.only problem was leaky joints.

price
2nd January 2014, 09:08
When I sailed with Everards, we normally topped up the galley bunker from deck sweepings after frequent cargos of coal. It was normally the 0300-0800 ABs duty to light the galley stove. Bruce.

Forbes1922
16th March 2014, 16:21
Sailed on m v longfellow 1960 had a coal bunker in the galley.also sailed on s.s.sandhoe 1961 with coal galley and lastly sailedon british trust 1966 that had OIl fired galley Tanker.when in isle of grain had to use kitchens (electric)at the endof the jetty. Forbes1922

chadburn
16th March 2014, 18:32
Paraffin soaked waste-wood- coal, get the kettle on in that order(Thumb)

Pat Kennedy
16th March 2014, 21:22
The galley stove on the Firth Fisher was an oil fired monster. It was the job of the 4 to 8 2nd wheelman, to call the cook at 05.30, and to fire up the stove. What a nightmare! It would,as often as not, flashback and remove your eyebrows. even the cook was scared of it.
Pat(Cloud)

kewl dude
16th March 2014, 21:56
Obviously not a sailing ship but the Liberty ship Jeremiah O'Brien galley stove burns coal. Attached:

JOB-20060930-IMG_0604.jpg (120.3 KB)
JOB-20060930-IMG_0605.jpg (116.5 KB)

I took these two pictures September 30, 2006. The 50 pound thick plastic coal bags are kept in a wooden outdoor enclosure aft of the mid-ship house on the deck above the galley.

Greg Hayden

Egil Margido Aasheim
3rd October 2014, 09:37
I served as a galley boy on Norwegian steamer in 1956-1958 it was called Løvland deadweight 0f 3600 tons we have oil burner and i was up at 5:00 in the morning and lighted it up never had any problem. But remembered when we had a new cook on board and taught him how to do it, but what happened it exploded, ashes all over the deck which was newly painted and the bosun was very angry but when he saw the two negros in the galley, he had to laugh becauce the galley, the cook and the galleyboy was black. The cook never tried to lit the oil burner again. 7

Varley
3rd October 2014, 18:32
I served as a galley boy on Norwegian steamer in 1956-1958 it was called Løvland deadweight 0f 3600 tons we have oil burner and i was up at 5:00 in the morning and lighted it up never had any problem. But remembered when we had a new cook on board and taught him how to do it, but what happened it exploded, ashes all over the deck which was newly painted and the bosun was very angry but when he saw the two negros in the galley, he had to laugh becauce the galley, the cook and the galleyboy was black. The cook never tried to lit the oil burner again. 7

Lord Finchley tried to mend the electric light,
Himself. It struck him dead and serve him right!
It is the duty of the wealthy man to give employment to the artisan.

ben27
4th October 2014, 00:40
good day k morley.m.31 dec.2013.06:43.#6.re:firing ships galleys.i note you were on the pamir.did you ever meet fred paulin.ship's carpenter.?thanks in advanced.regards ben27

Seaspread
28th January 2016, 20:00
I was ships cook on the Everard"s Ability in 72 and the oilfired stove was a T--t to light, get up at 4am to light it and hope it stayed lit and cleaning it was a nightmare throw a ten ton shackel down the chimeny and then lift the plates off and those beasts weighed in at two stone apiece and there where four of them, clean all the soot and crap up then that was it for another week, just another day in the cooks lot.

K Morley
29th January 2016, 02:12
Hi Ben 27.
No I never met Fred Paulin,he was on voyage 9 Wellington/Sydney 1946/47.
I was 1944/45. voyage 5. after that the next 20 years sailing under 6 different flags.
Great to hear from you, Ken

lakercapt
29th January 2016, 03:09
First ship I was on was a wartime built "Ocean " class which was a coal burner.
The galley stove was coal fired and the on watch trimmer made sure the coal bunker was topped up.
When on night watchman duty I was respponsible for keeping it stoked up and would get extra supper if the stove was glowing when the cook turned to in the morning.
When at sea the "farmer" kept the fires going during the night watches.

willhastie
29th January 2016, 04:11
Hms Barnstone 1966 although a coal burner the galley stove was diesel.the fuel tank was on the funnel deck and gravity fed to the stove.in the stove was a steel dish were the diesel dripped onto and after many attempts it would light,
then shut the doors and start the fan.Daft things we remember.

canadian
29th January 2016, 11:43
[QUOTE=Seaspread;1842514]I was ships cook on the Everard"s Ability in 72 and the oilfired stove was a T--t to light, get up at 4am to light it and hope it stayed lit and cleaning it was a nightmare throw a ten ton shackel down the chimeny and then lift the plates off and those beasts weighed in at two stone apiece and there where four of them, clean all the soot and crap up then that was it for another week, just another day in the cooks lot.[/QUOTE

That brings back memories I was on the Speciality Oct 1961 the stove ignited flames went through the skylight to the boat deck consequently setting fire to the lifeboat which was a right off, the barley sugar was nice.

slick
29th January 2016, 12:24
All,
Most of Hain's older ships Galleys were Coal fired.
The Farmer's task at sea and the Nightwatchmans in port, favoured starting material Cotton waste soaked in ER oil washings.
Some mornings a veritable ***** others like the fore of London!!


Yours aye,

slick

tom roberts
29th January 2016, 19:03
If I remember correctly the skin boat Tilapa had a coal burning galley and we topped up with coal in Kingston on a Sunday morning,all the coasters I sailed on we're coal fired galleys .

Split
30th January 2016, 06:45
I was apprentice on a "Fort" coal burner. It was the practice for the galleyboy to clean one stove every night and for the farmer to get it going in the early morning. Simply build up the existing coal stove and then, with a shovel, transfer the burning coals over to the other stove.

loco
3rd February 2016, 16:44
Doesn't the classic 'Two Years Before The Mast' by RH Dana include a piece when he assists in crewing a boat to go 'wooding' or galley firewood in San Francisco Bay? Its a few years since I re-read this book, but I'm sure its mentioned-IIRC, they are frozen overnight in a drizzle, and nearly get swept out of the Bay.
I know it mentions going wooding when he was ashore in the hide house, but I can't remember if this wood collected was just for the hide house's own use, or whether it was also collected ready for the return of their ship.
Martyn

barney b
17th January 2017, 15:28
Sailed on small tanker in early sixties named Brodick,cook took evening/night off as we sailed from Preston back to Ellesmere port, I was catering boy and had to step in and cook evening meal for crew.We sailed into a gale bow on and the oil stove frightened the life out of me, every time the ship dived down in the seas the stove went out and as she came back up the stove exploded with flame out of top. I had no idea how to control it.Went to boat deck turned off the oil and we all had salad and sandwiches for tea.Never was asked to stand in for cook again.(Scribe)

Basil
17th January 2017, 16:06
These show the arrangement on The Mary Rose.

http://www.maryrose.org/meet-the-crew/the-cook/cooking/

http://www.maryrose.org/resources/lcity/image-map.htm

Russ Lowdon
17th January 2017, 18:59
Elders & Fyffes's MV Zent (3rd) - 9 cyl B&W- was my first ship as a junior engineer.The galley was positioned athwartships between the two accommodation alleyways.and my cabin was at the end next to the galley.. it was diesel fired and I hadn't got my sea legs -did a lot of calling for Hughie that trip all the way from the Mersey to Las Palmas

Michael Taylor
17th January 2017, 19:37
Am sure many of us that sailed in the late 50's early 60's with Indian crews remember the coal stoves that the Bandaries used, one either side for the firemen and sailors. It was our job as Apprentices to measure the coal remaining in the two bunkers so more could be ordered when in port. The Officers galley midships was similarly set up but much larger and was replaced long before that of the crew with an electric model.

Frank P
17th January 2017, 19:39
When I was onboard the Mathias Reith built i 1954 we had an oil burning stove in the galley and it was job of the 4-8 watchman to light the stove and have it ready before he woke the cook, most of the time it fired up ok but you always had to check after a while that the stove fire was burning. During the first few days of me lighting the stove I forgot to check it and the flame had gone out, I woke up the cook as normal and then got a bollocking from the mate when the cook called the bridge because people were whinging that there was no hot food ready....

Cheers Frank

narra
21st January 2017, 01:23
Canadian Hi.As you can see at top of the page I was on the Speciality in 53 and had almost the same problem blew the stove up. All the best Narra. 4 one done.

canadian
21st January 2017, 09:20
Canadian Hi.As you can see at top of the page I was on the Speciality in 53 and had almost the same problem blew the stove up. All the best Narra. 4 one done.

All the best Narra, I was also aboard her (Speciality) In 59 as cabin boy first trip, Memories a little hazy, although fire free.

Regards Canadian.

Dingogirl
8th July 2017, 06:16
As many Australian members will know, HMS Tamar, Sir J. G. Bremer Commander, left Sydney for the northern coast of Australia to establish a new settlement at Melville Island. She was accompanied by the convict transport ship Countess of Harcourt, Bunn master, homeward bound to England via Calcutta, but contracted to accompany the Tamar, carrying convicts, troops and supplies. On 10 March 1825, the Australian newspaper carried a story about the new settlement of Fort Dundas and it included the following comment, author not identified but possibly an officer from HMS Tamar:

"Oct. 15 [1824].—This day a man found secreted in the hold of the transport, who stated he had been there ten weeks. His appearance was really heart rending. Greater part of the time he must have been in the coal-hole, which is as hot as an oven, and swarming with centipedes, and other vermin. He has since been recognized as Thomas Harris, a joiner."

This would indicate that the CofH had coal-fired galleys. Similarly, the 60-ton brig Lady Nelson, Johns master, also accompanied HMS Tamar and apart from her own supplies, she carried 60 tons of coal. It was expected that she would be on duty at Fort Dundas for several years as a supply vessel, scouting the islands for fresh livestock and vegetables for the new settlement. Again this suggests to me that coal-fired galleys were probably in widespread use by the early 19th century.

ianrobson36
26th July 2017, 15:48
What ever the stoves were I have always had good regard for the cooks who kept us fed, whatever the weather, I take my hat off to them.

david freeman
2nd August 2017, 08:15
one experience adrift for some 9/10 days without any power. The Chief steward utilized the er forge on the poop to cater for the whole crew some 55 persons [Indian Crew]- [fuel become a problem which was solved with ingenuity. He managed, and we ate fairly well as the cold rooms, could only be opened for limited periods [we were in the India Ocean off Bombay/Karachi some 5 days steaming to Bahrain, when power was resumed.]

lazyjohn
11th October 2017, 14:30
On many sailing vessels, coal was the common fuel. Even HMS Victory seems to have had a coal fired range. Coal is heavier but more compact to store. A small supply would have been kept in a ready to use bin in the galley. The main supply, due to its mass, would have been ordered into the storage holds wherever the 1st lieutenant/chief mate decided. It may well have been stored (in sacks or bins)in several parcels as required for stability. Ease of access would have been taken into consideration as well. Wood fuel is also more of a fire risk (odd but true). Some (mainly)merchant ships also stored coal on deck. (Refs:- read Bird of Dawning, visit HMS Victory, visit Cutty Sark)

Tony Magon
16th November 2018, 06:37
At HMNZS Irirangi (Old camp) 5 miles south of Waiouru they used a diesel stove - Used to do our own cook ups on a Sunday

HMNZS Kiama and Inverell had diesel stoves as well apparently

Regards

Tony Magon - ex RNZN - Awarua, Chatham Islands, and Sydney Radio