image tracts_406_7_plate 1
Image number: RS.11876
Credit: ©The Royal Society

Corvette struck by lightning




Nicholas Matthew Condy (1806-1851, British), Painter

Object type

Library reference

Tracts 406/7/2




height (print): 130mm
width (print): 208mm


Content object

   > ship
   > weather


Landscape showing the Royal Navy vessel H.M.S.Dido being struck by a lightning off Java Head (Java, Indonesia).

Plate from the monograph Remarkable instances of the protection of certain ships of Her Majesty’s Navy, from the destructive effects of lightning by W. Snow Harris ((London, 1847).

The illustration is inscribed below: ‘PROTECTION OF H.M. CORVETTE DIDO. From a Perilous Stroke of Lightning off Java. May 1847 (from a drawing by N.M. Condy Esq.).’

Accompanying text describes the event: ‘The general and permanent system of protection from lightning now under consideration, experienced in this ship a most severe trial, off Java Head, in May last, 1847, in the course of her passage to New Zealand…a vivid and fierce discharge fell aloft, in a double or forked current, upon the main royal-mast…It vanished, as it were, in the sea, effectively conducted through the ship, which nevertheless felt the shock through her whole frame.’

Sir William Snow Harris (1791-1867) British natural philosopher and expert on lightning protection was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1831. He championed the idea of using lightning conductors on sailing ships. H.M.S Beagle was among the early test vessels.

Associated place

<The World>
   > Asia
      > Indonesia
<The World>
   > Europe
      > United Kingdom