Philip Watts (naval architect)

Sir Philip Watts

Philip Watts caricatured by Spy in Vanity Fair, 1910
Born (1846-05-30)30 May 1846
Deptford, Kent, England
Died 15 March 1926(1926-03-15) (aged 79)
Chelsea, London, England
Nationality United Kingdom
Occupation Naval architect
Known for Warship design
Spouse(s) Elise Isabelle Simonau, daughter of Chevalier Gustave Simonau, of Brussels
Children 2 daughters

Sir Philip Watts, KCB, FRS (30 May 1846 – 15 March 1926) was a British naval architect, famous for his design of the revolutionary Elswick cruiser and HMS Dreadnought.

Early life

Watts was born in Deptford, Kent and educated at the Dockyard School in Portsmouth and the Royal School of Naval Architecture in South Kensington, London.[1]


Watts became a constructor to the Admiralty from 1870 to 1885, and reached the rank of Chief constructor.[2] From 1885 to 1901 he was director of the War Shipping department of Armstrong, Whitworth & Co. at Elswick (subsequently returning as a director of the company in 1912); but in 1902 he was appointed Director of Naval Construction at the Admiralty. This post he held until 1912, when he was succeeded by Sir Eustace Tennyson d'Eyncourt and became Adviser to the Admiralty on Naval Construction. In this capacity he played an important part when the World War I came.

Being the designer of the first dreadnought battleship, it was now up to him to see the use that was made of the fleet which he had brought into being in previous years. He was a member of the royal commission on the Supply and Storage of Liquid Fuel (1912).

Watts was a keen volunteer, and a commanding officer of the 1st Northumberland Artillery Volunteers.[2]

In June 1900 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society and was Vice-president in 1915-1916.[3] He was created KCB in 1905.

Ships designed

Armstrong, Whitworth & Co[2]

Royal Navy

Family and Later life

Watts married Elise Isabelle Simonau, daughter of Chevalier Gustave Simonau. They had two daughters. He died in 1926 and is buried in Brompton Cemetery.[4]


  1. "Sir Philip Watts, K.C.B., F.R.S". Nature. 117 (2943). 1926. doi:10.1038/117457a0. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
  2. 1 2 3 "The Director of Naval Construction". The Times (36631). London. 6 December 1901. p. 6.
  3. "Library and Archive catalogue". Royal Society. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
  4. Brompton football equipment training folding at at
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