Antony Preston

Antony Preston (26 February 1938 – 25 December 2004) was an English naval historian and editor, specialising in the area of 19th and 20th-century naval history and warship design.

Antony Preston
BornAntony Martin Douglas Leslie William Calhoun Preston
26 February 1938
Salford, Lancashire
Died25 December 2004 (aged 66)
Battersea, London
Resting placeMortlake, London
OccupationNaval historian, editor, journalist and author
EducationKing Edward VII School, Johannesburg
University of Witwatersrand
GenreNaval History
SpouseJennifer Preston


Antony Preston was born in 1938 in Salford, Lancashire, the son of the 16th Viscount Gormanston and Miss Julia O'Mahony. After becoming a wartime evacuee, he was educated in South Africa at King Edward VII School, Johannesburg, and the University of Witwatersrand.[1] On his return to England he spent some years at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, before becoming Editor of the periodical "Defence".[2] During the 1970s he was employed by a specialist publisher, Conway Maritime Press, as editor of their Warship annual. He also produced the specialised newsletter Navint. In the early nineties he took over as chief-editor of the magazine Naval Forces at the German editorial group Mönch. He left to resume as editor of Warships in 1996. Antony Preston lived in London until his death in 2004. His son Matt Preston (born 1961 and the eldest of Preston's four children) has gained celebrity as a TV judge on MasterChef Australia and as a restaurant critic-columnist for the Melbourne Age & Herald-Sun newspapers.[1]


Antony Preston was a prolific author both of books and articles, and published on subjects ranging from the American Revolution to modern seapower; the bibliography given below illustrates the breadth of his expertise. He wrote on general military history, as well as most aspects of naval history and modern-day naval matters. He was a pugnacious writer and was usually willing to take up one side of a controversy, even in a work of reference (see brief collection of quotes below).

Memorable quotes

  • Lion-class battlecruisers - "ton for ton, the least satisfactory ships built for the RN in modern times"[3]
  • French Duquesne class - "unfit for combat with any existing cruiser"[4]
  • Fast attack craft - "a fresh coat of paint and a display of flags can hide a multitude of shortcomings"[4]
  • German Panzerschiffe - "more of a political gesture than a significant contribution to the history of capital-ship design"[5]
  • Medina-class gunboats - "the most grotesque craft ever seen".[6]

World's Worst Warships

The World's Worst Warships is a book about warship design. While nobody sets out to design a bad warship, some ships turn out unsuitable for the tasks which they are asked to perform. Notwithstanding his lack of engineering knowledge, Antony Preston regarded the following designs as particularly poor:


Only the four most recent Warship annuals are listed; other titles are listed in reverse order of publication.

  • Send a Gunboat: The Victorian Navy and Supremacy at Sea, 1854–1904 2007 with Eric J. Grove and John Major
  • Warship 2005 (Ed). Conway Maritime Press (July 15, 2005). ISBN 1-84486-003-5
  • Warship 2004 (Ed). Conway Maritime Press. (July, 2004). ISBN 0-85177-948-4
  • Warship 2002–2003 (Ed). Conway Maritime Press. (Dec, 2002). ISBN 0-85177-901-8
  • Warship 2001–2002 (Ed). Conway Maritime Press. (April, 2002). ISBN 0-85177-926-3
  • The World's Great Submarines: From the Civil War to the Present Day (2005)
  • Send a Gunboat! (with John Major). Chrysalis Books (February 28, 2003). ISBN 0-85177-923-9
  • The World's Worst Warships. Conway Maritime Press (2002). ISBN 0-85177-754-6
  • The Royal Navy Submarine Service: A Centennial History. Conway Maritime Press (November 2001). ISBN 0-85177-891-7
  • The World's Great Aircraft Carriers: From the Civil War to the Present. Thunder Bay Press (CA) (July 2000). ISBN 1-57145-261-3
  • Submarine Warfare: An Illustrated History. Thunder Bay Press (CA) (April 1999). ISBN 1-57145-172-2
  • An illustrated history of the navies of World War II, Military Book Club (January 1, 1998). ASIN B0006R987I, also Bison (1976). ISBN 0-86124-071-5
  • Aircraft Carriers: An Illustrated History. PRC Publishing Ltd. (1997). ASIN B000CORWY6
  • Pictorial History of South Africa. Gallery Books (Aug 1989). ISBN 0-8317-6905-X
  • Jane's Fighting Ships of World War II, Tiger Books (1989). ISBN 978-1-85501-994-2
  • Fighting Ships, Bison (1989). ISBN 0-86124-495-8
  • Berühmte Kriegsschiffe - 1914 bis heute, Motorbuch Verlag Stuttgart, 1988. ISBN 3-613-01218-9
  • (with Richard Natkiel) Weidenfeld Atlas of Maritime History. Weidenfeld & Nicolson (May 1986). ISBN 0-297-78653-9
  • Carriers (Modern Military Techniques), Armada (1986). ISBN 978-0-583-31003-1
  • History of the Royal Navy, W.H. Smith (1985). ISBN 978-0-86124-121-7
  • Armed Forces of the World (with Charles Messenger and Anthony Robinson), Gallery Books (1985). ISBN 978-0-8317-0403-2
  • Flower Class Corvettes (Man O' War), Arms and Armour Press (1982). ISBN 978-0-85368-559-3
  • Strike Craft, Bison (1982). ISBN 0-86124-068-5
  • Submarines, Bison (1982). ISBN 0-86124-066-9
  • Aircraft Carriers, Bison (1982). ISBN 0-86124-067-7
  • Battleships, Bison (1982). ISBN 0-86124-063-4
  • Destroyers, Bison (1982). ISBN 0-86124-065-0
  • Battleships (Warships). Lifetime Books (August 1982). ISBN 0-8119-0462-8
  • Cruisers (Warships). Lifetime Books (August 1982). ISBN 0-8119-0465-2
  • Sea combat off the Falklands. Willow Books (1982). ISBN 0-00-218046-4
  • Warships of the World, Jane's Information Group (1980). ISBN 978-0-7106-0020-2
  • Fighting Ships of the World, Phoebus (1980). ISBN 978-0-7026-0067-8
  • Sea Power: A Modern Illustrated Military History (with Louis S Casey & John Batchelor). Exeter Books (September 1980). ISBN 0-89673-011-5
  • Decisive Battles of the Pacific Wars. Book Sales (May 1980). ISBN 0-89009-293-1
  • Dreadnought to nuclear submarine (The ship). HMSO/National Maritime Museum (1980). ISBN 0-11-290319-3
  • U-Boats, E.P. Dutton & Co Inc (1978). ASIN B0011WGKMS
  • Battleships, 1856–1945, Phoebus (1977). ISBN 978-0-7271-0183-9
  • Submarines Since 1919 (with John Batchelor), BPC Publishing Ltd (1974). ASIN B0007ALBJM
  • Battleships of World War I, Stackpole (1972). ISBN 978-0-8117-0211-9
  • V and W Class Destroyers, 1919–1945, Macdonald (1971). ISBN 978-0-356-03471-3
  • (Editor) Super Destroyers: The Big Destroyers built in the 1930s (Warship Special), Conway Maritime Press (1978). ISBN 978-0-85177-131-1
  • (Editor) Decisive Battles of Hitler's War, Chartwell Books (1977). ISBN 978-0-89009-091-6
  • (contributor) Navies of the American Revolution. Leo Cooper (April 1975). ISBN 0-85052-191-2
  • (contributor) Navies of World War 3. BISON BOOKS (1986). ISBN 0-86124-114-2

Notes and references

  1. Publisher's preface, The World's Worst Warships (Conway Maritime Press 2002) ISBN 0-85177-754-6
  2. Publisher's preface, Sea Power: A Modern Illustrated Military History (Exeter Books 1980) ISBN 0-89673-011-5
  3. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1906–1921 (1985) ISBN 0-85177-245-5
  4. The World's Worst Warships (Conway Maritime Press 2002) ISBN 0-85177-754-6
  5. Sea Power: A Modern Illustrated Military History (with Louis S Casey & John Batchelor). Exeter Books (September 1980). ISBN 0-89673-011-5
  6. Preston, Antony; Major, John (2007). Send a Gunboat: The Victorian Navy and Supremacy at Sea, 1854–1904 (2nd ed.). London: Conway. ISBN 978-0-85177-923-2. p.167
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