King James I’s submarine

A post today about weak points; about where fantasies, alternate worlds, break through into reality. Based on seeing a working rebuild of Cornelis Drebbel’s human powered submarine at a Farmer’s market in Richmond.

Here’s the submarine:

And here’s the plan:

Here some of the fittings – the waterproof oar joints:

The oar mechanism, allowing the oar to paddle when moved backwards and flap shut on the way forwards:

And the rudder – which can split into two and flap open, acting as a brake and stopping the submarine dead.

Drebbel built three versions of his submarine, each fully functional and each successively larger. Apparently King James I rode in the third one, but even his support failed to arouse the interest of the Navy.

This model proved that the concept worked; what’s fascinating is to think what might have happened had the first stirrings of the Empire gone submarine in the 16th Century. Along with my forthcoming tales of John Dee’s Space Navy, it’s a whole set of stories waiting to be told…

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