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Redbreast-class gunboat
HMS Sparrow (1889)
HMS Sparrow
Class overview
Name: Redbreast-class gunboats
Builders: Pembroke Dockyard
Sheerness Dockyard
Devonport Dockyard
Scotts of Greenock
Operators: Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Government Ensign of the United Kingdom New Zealand Government
Civil Ensign of the United Kingdom British Merchant Navy
Cost: Between £38,000 (Widgeon)
and £39,300 (Ringdove)[1]
Built: 1889
In commission: 1889–1921
Completed: 9
Lost: 1
General characteristics
Class & type: Redbreast-class first-class gunvessel
Displacement: 805 tons
Length: 165 ft (50 m)
Beam: 31 ft (9.4 m)
Draught: 11.6 ft (3.5 m) min, 13.9 ft (4.2 m) max
Installed power: 1,200 indicated horsepower
Propulsion: Triple expansion steam engine
Two boilers
Single screw
Sail plan: Barquentine-rigged
Speed: 13 kn (24 km/h)
Range: 2,500 nmi (4,600 km) at 10 kn (19 km/h)[1]
Complement: 76

Magpie, Redbreast, Redpole & Ringdove:

Lapwing, Goldfinch, Thrush, Widgeon & Sparrow:

  • Six 4-inch/25-pounder QF guns
  • Two 3-pounder QF guns
  • Two machine guns[1]

The Redbreast class comprised nine first-class screw-driven composite gunboats built for the Royal Navy in 1889, mounting 6 guns.



The Redbreast class were designed by Sir William Henry White, the Royal Navy Director of Naval Construction in 1888.[1] The hull was of composite construction, that is, iron keel, frames, stem and stern posts with wooden planking. These were the last class of composite-hulled gunboats built for the Royal Navy - the next class of gunboat, the Bramble-class gunboat of 1898, was of steel construction.


The class was fitted with a triple-expansion reciprocating steam engine developing 1,200 indicated horsepower, sufficient to propel them at 13 kn (24 km/h) through a single screw.

Sail PlanEdit

The class was given a barquentine rig.


The first four ships were armed with six 4-inch/25-pounder (25cwt) quickfiring guns and four machine guns. The last five had an additional pair of 3-pounder quickfiring guns in place of two of the machine guns.[1]


NameShip BuilderLaunchedFate
HMS MagpiePembroke Dockyard15 March 1889Boom defence vessel in 1902. Gunboat in 1915, depot ship in October 1915. Sold to Duguid & Stewart on 29 December 1921[1]
HMS RedbreastPembroke Dockyard25 April 1889Sold in 1910[1]
HMS RedpolePembroke Dockyard13 June 1889Sold to Cox for breaking at Falmouth on 15 May 1906[1]
HMS RingdoveDevonport Dockyard30 April 1889Became a salvage vessel on 7 December 1915, renamed Melita. Sold to Ship Salvage Corporation on 22 January 1920,[1] and renamed Telima, she was broken up in the second quarter of 1926.[2]
HMS LapwingDevonport Dockyard12 April 1889Sold at Bombay on 10 November 1910[1]
HMS GoldfinchSheerness Dockyard18 May 1889Survey vessel in February 1902. Sold for breaking on 14 May 1907[1]
HMS ThrushScott’s, Greenock22 June 1889Coastguard in 1906, cable ship in 1915, salvage vessel in 1916. Wrecked off Glenarm, Northern Ireland on 11 April 1917[1]
HMS WidgeonPembroke Dockyard9 August 1889Sold to Castle for breaking at Charlton on 15 May 1906[1]
HMS SparrowScott’s, Greenock26 September 1889Transferred to New Zealand as a training ship on 10 July 1906, renamed Amokura. Sold as a coal hulk in February 1922. Broken up in 1955[1]
HMS Ringdove (1889) AWM 302255 clipped

HMS Ringdove dressed overall at Melbourne in 1896


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 Winfield, Rif; Lyon, David (2004). The Sail and Steam Navy List: All the Ships of the Royal Navy 1815–1889. London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-032-6. OCLC 52620555. 
  2. "1132764". Miramar Ship Index. Retrieved 8 July 2009.  (subscription required)

External linksEdit

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