Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company

Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company
Industry Engineering
Fate Acquired
Successor C. A. Parsons and Company
Founded 1897
Headquarters Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

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


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 setting up the company and the subsequent construction of the engines for the first two turbine-powered destroyers for the Navy, HMS Viper and HMS Cobra, which were 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 shaft horsepower (25,000 kW), but only achieved 33,376 shp (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.

A pair of large helical gears in a ship's engine room, mounted herringbone-fashion.
Turbine reduction gearing of SS Vespasian, c. 1905

The Invincible-class battlecruisers all used propulsion systems manufactured by the company. The last ship to use a Parsons propulsion system was HMS Glamorgan launched in 1964.[2]

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.


  1. Chronology of Charles Parsons Life
  2. 1 2 HMS Glamorgan: History
  3. Breyer, Siegfried (1973). Battleships and Battle Cruisers, 1905–1970. Garden City, New York: Doubleday. OCLC 702840. p. 214.

See also

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