HMS Eden (1903)

HMS Eden (1903) was a River class destroyer that served with the Ninth Flotilla on the Tyne in 1914-15 and with the local Defence Flotilla at Portsmouth from 1915 until she was sunk in a collision with a merchant ship on 18 June 1916.

The Eden was built to the original design, with her forward 6-pdr guns on sponsons on either side of the forecastle. This made them rather wet in some seas, and they were lifted to a higher position on ships from the 1902/3 batch and later.

HMS Eden from the right
HMS Eden from the right

The Eden was one of two River class destroyers ordered from Hawthorn Leslie in the 1901-1902 batch, in this case working with Parsons. They both had two funnels. The two ships were given different engines – the Derwent used triple expansion engines, while the Eden used three-shaft Parsons turbines. The turbines were chosen after the first two turbine powered destroyers were lost in October 1901. The Navy decided to buy one turbine powered destroyer that Parsons had been building on spec (HMS Velox), and install turbines in the new third class cruiser Amethyst and the River class Eden. One problem with these early turbines was that they used a lot of fuel, especially at lower speeds. In earlier ships a set of low powered reciprocating cruising engines were installed, but on the Eden cruising turbines were used instead. HP and IP engines were attached to the main shafts, and were used to power the boat at speeds of up to 15-16 knots. In tests this system proved to be less fuel efficient than normal reciprocating engines, but better that a purely turbine powered ship. The Velox was later modified to use the same system.

The Eden was launched on Saturday 14 March 1903, and was christened by Miss Doris Cookson.

The Eden was also used in trials against the Waveney, which were used to help justify fitting turbines to the battleship HMS Dreadnought.

The two sister ships were then used for comparative trials, in which the turbines were judged to have been the winner. Turbine engines soon became the standard for all destroyers. Her layout had an influence of many of the following British destroyer designs, at least up to the Acorn or H class of the 1909-10 programme.

HMS Eden from the bows
HMS Eden from the bows

In the summer of 1904 the new River class boats took part in a series of torpedo craft manoeuvres, where they proved themselves to be more capable than the 30 knotters. In addition after the end of the manoeuvres a force of 31 destroyers left Falmouth and the Sicily Islands to head back to Queenstown and Waterford. They ran into a heavy gale off Land’s End, and only thee River class boats ( Cherwell, Eden and Welland) reached Waterford intact. Only one of the older boats, the Hunter was still with them, but she had been badly damaged by the storm.

Brassey’s Naval Annual of 1905 published the results of her official trials, which had taken place in January 1904. She averaged 26.22knots on her four hour speed trial and 25.28knots on her four hour coal consumption trials. However the normal horse power and fuel efficiency figures couldn’t be given, as it wasn’t yet possible to measure the output of her turbine engines.

By 1912 Brassey’s listed her as being armed with four 12-pounder guns, after the 6-pounders were replaced across the River class.


In 1904-1905 the Eden was one of six River class destroyers that were part of the Nore Flotilla, one of three that contained all of the home based destroyers. The River class boats were all based at Felixstowe.

In August 1905 the Eden was part of the powerful British fleet that gathered at Portsmouth to meet a French fleet making the first visit to a British port for many years.

On 18 September 1906 the Eden arrived at Portsmouth from Chatham, to being a series of comparative trials against destroyers powered by reciprocating engines.

In 1909-11 the Eden was one of thirteen River Class destroyers in the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla on the Nore, part of the 3rd Division of the Home Fleet. This contained the older battleships and its destroyers were partly manned.

In October 1909 the Eden, Panther and Earnest visited Aberdeen.

HMS Eden from the stern
HMS Eden from the stern

At about 2am on Friday 28 January 1910 the Eden broke from her moorings at Dover during a violent gale and went ashore east of the port, at the foot of the East Cliff.. She suffered serious damage under the waterline, including a hole in the aft stoke hole. An initial attempt to tow her off the rocks failed, and she began to list over to one side. Her crew of 40 were rescued just in case she did fall over. By 4am the water had fallen and she was out of the water. Some of her crew then went onboard and began to remove the coal in her bunkers to reduce her weight.

At daylight the damage was inspected. A gap large enough for a man to walk through had been made near the bows, the propellers, shafts and rudders were smashed.

The Eden was towed off the rocks on the afternoon tide of 28 January, to prevent her suffering more damage as she was battered against the cliffs. She was then deliberately been scuttled to protect her from further damage in the storms. Work on repairing her began on 29 January, and on 1 February 1910 she was towed into Dover Harbour, where temporary repairs were to be carried out.

The Eden had to be beached on the mud of the tidal harbour at Dover to allow repairs to begin, but sank into the mud. As a result the mud had to be excavated at each tide to allow work to begin on fixing the damage.

On Thursday 3 March 1910 the Eden was placed out of commission at Chatham and her crew were sent to the Naval depot to be distributed to other ships. A skeleton crew was left with her while she was being repaired.

In 1911-12 the Eden was part of the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla on the Nore, which was made up of twenty-three River class destroyers and was part of the 3rd Division of the Home Fleet. This contained the older battleships and the destroyers were all partly manned.

In May 1912 the Eden visited Grimsby accompanying a flotilla of C Class submarines and their parent ship HMS Thomas.

In 1912-14 the Eden was one of twenty five River class destroyers that formed the 9th Destroyer Flotilla on the Nore, one of the new Patrol Flotillas.

First World War

In July 1914 she was one of sixteen River class destroyers in the Ninth Flotilla at Chatham.

In August 1914 she was one of seven River class destroyers from the Ninth Flotilla that had reached their new base in the Tyne.

In November 1914 she was one of four destroyers in the 3rd Division of the 9th Flotilla on the Tyne.

In January 1915 she was part of the Ninth Destroyer Flotilla, a patrol flotilla

In June 1915 she was officially part of the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla on the Humber, but she was actually at Portsmouth.

The October, November and December 1915 Navy Lists had her as part of the large Local Defence Flotilla at Portsmouth.

In January 1916 she was one of eighteen destroyers in the Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla.

On 18 June 1916 the Eden was sunk in a collision with the SS France  in the English Channel. The Eden was escorting the transport to Le Havre, but at 0300 her steering gear jammed. The Eden was warned, but wasn’t able to take evasive action in time and she was hit amidships. She was split in half by the collision. The forward half sank immediately, but the rear half stayed afloat and was towed to Le Havre. Her commander, Lt. Alastair Farquhar, two other officers and 39 men were killed, a total of 42 men lost. Thirty five of her crew survived.

Lt. Alastair C, Farquhar: to 18 June 1916

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



3-shaft Parsons turbine
Modified Yarrow boilers




225.5ft oa
220ft pp




One 12-pounder gun
Five 6-pounder guns
Two 18in torpedo tubes

Crew complement


Laid down

12 June 1902


13 March 1903


June 1904


18 June 1916

British Destroyers From Earliest Days to the Second World War, Norman Friedman. A very detailed look at the design of British destroyers from their earliest roots as torpedo boat destroyers, though the First World War and up to the start of the Second World War, supported by vast numbers of plans and well chosen photographs [read full review]
cover cover cover

Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (20 February 2020), HMS Eden (1903) ,

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