Marathon-class cruiser

The Marathon-class cruiser was a class of second class cruiser of the Royal Navy ordered under the naval programme of 1887. The class was a smaller version of the Mersey class.

Chromolithograph of HMS Magicienne by W. Fred Mitchell, 1892
Class overview
Name: Marathon class
Operators:  Royal Navy
Built: 18871889
In commission: 18891920
Completed: 5
Retired: 5
General characteristics
Type: 2nd class cruiser
  • 2,800 long tons (2,845 t) (Medea & Medusa)
  • 2,950 long tons (2,997 t) (Melpomene, Magicienne & Marathon)
Propulsion: Dürr boilers (Medusa)[1]
Speed: 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)
Complement: 218

Three of the ships, Melpomene, Magicienne and Marathon, were built for foreign (tropical) service, with a sheath of wood and copper - this added weight and made them slightly slower.


Name Builder Laid down Launched Completed
HMS Marathon Fairfields, Govan 10 August 1887 23 August 1888 1889
HMS Magicienne Fairfields, Govan 10 August 1887 12 May 1888 1889
HMS Medea Chatham 25 April 1887 9 June 1888 1889
HMS Melpomene Portsmouth 10 October 1887 20 September 1888 1890
HMS Medusa Chatham 25 August 1887 11 August 1888 1889

Boiler trials

By 1901, the Royal Navy had ordered eight Dürr boilers from Germany, to be installed as a trial on board Medusa as a substitute for the Belleville boilers then in naval use.[2]


  1. Brown, D.K. (2010) [1997]. Warrior to Dreadnought. Seaforth. p. 165. ISBN 978-1-84832-086-4.
  2. William Allan MP (22 April 1901). "Dürr water-tube boilers". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). 92. House of Commons. col. 907. Eight water-tube boilers of the Durr type have been ordered from Germany. The total cost of the boilers is £19,450. This is exclusive of spare parts and fitting on board. The boilers are to be placed on board H.M.S. "Medusa." They have been guaranteed by the maker to give 155,000 lbs. dry steam per hour from feed water at 80 deg. F., with an air pressure of 1½ inches; 104,000 lbs. per hour with ½ inch air pressure (that used for continuous steaming); and 80,000 lbs. per hour with natural draught.


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