Support the project with paypal

MEDEA 2 class cruisers (5, 1889 - 1890)


Marathon as built


Name No Yard No Builder Laid down Launched Comp Fate
Magicienne   328 Elder, Govan 10.8.1887 12.5.1888 11.2.1889 sold 7.1905
Medea     Chatham DYd 25.4.1887 9.6.1888 5.1889 sold 4.1914
Medusa     Chatham DYd 25.8.1887 11.8.1888 6.1889 hulk 1910
Marathon   329 Elder, Govan 10.8.1887 23.8.1888 7.1889 sold to BU 8.1905
Melpomene     Portsmouth DYd 10.10.1887 20.9.1888 7.1889 sold to BU 8.1905

Technical data

Displacement normal, t

Medea, Medusa: 2800

Magicienne, Marathon, Melpomene: 2950

Displacement full, t 
Length, m

80.8 pp

Breadth, m

Medea, Medusa: 12.5

Magicienne, Marathon, Melpomene: 12.8

Draught, m


No of shafts



Medea, Medusa: 2 VC, 6 cylindrical boilers

Magicienne, Marathon, Melpomene: 2 HC, direct action, 6 cylindrical boilers

Power, h. p.

forced draught: 9000

Max speed, kts

Medea, Medusa: 20

Magicienne, Marathon, Melpomene: 19.7

Fuel, t

coal 400

Endurance, nm(kts)


Armour, mmsteel; deck: 51-25, gunshields: 114, CT: 76

6 x 1 - 152/26 BL Mk IV/VI, 9 x 1 - 57/40 6pdr Hotchkiss Mk I, 1 x 1 - 47/40 3pdr Hotchkiss Mk I, 3 x 1 - 11.9/78, 2 - 356 TT (1 bow, 1 aft), 2 - 356 TC



Standard scale images

<i>Magicienne </i>1889
Magicienne 1889


<i>Marathon </i>as built
Marathon as built

Project history

Provided under the 1886/87 Programme, these ships were reduced editions of the Mersey class and were inferior to those ships in all respects. They were reclassified third class cruisers while building. White design. Three of the class, Melpomene, Magicienne and Marathon, were sheathed in wood and copper for tropical service which increased the beam by 0.3m, added 150t to the displacement and reduced the designed speed by 0.25kt. They also differed from the unsheathed pair in having horizontal engines. The wood insulated the copper from the steel to prevent rapid electrolitic deacy, whilst the copper sheathing prevented rapid fouling in tropical waters. Within the next few years improved anti-fouling paints would reduce the need for so cumbersome an expedient. Three 152mm guns, mounted on sponsons, were fitted on each side, one on the forecastle, one amidships on the upper deck and one on the poop. Eight of the 57mm QF guns were mourned on the upper deck, 4 amidships, 2 forward and 2 aft and the ninth on the centreline at the after end of the poop. They did not achieve their designed speeds on trials, averaging 19kts, and proved poor steamers in service particularly in a seaway. An open upper deck amidships with low bulwarks made them very wet and they proved to be bad sea boats. They were fitted with a turtle back forecastle and the forward 6in guns were provided with a low breakwater indicating that the designers expected them to be wet ships. They also suffered from cramped accommodation and insufficient space in the boiler rooms for efficient stoking, and it was generally concluded that all their troubles resulted from their small size.

Ship protection

 The protective deck was 25mm on the flat and 51mm on the slope, the flat being 0.3m above the load line and the outer edge of the slope 1.5m below.


1890s, all: - 6 x 1 - 152/26; + 6 x 1 - 152/26 QFC Mk I/IV / I/VI / II/IV / II/VI / III/IV / III/VI

Naval service

Medea was laid up awaiting disposal in 1906, but recommissioned in April 1909 and paid off in 1913. Medusa was laid up out of commission in 1906 but was commissioned again as harbour hulk in 1910, used as calibrating vessel in 1914-1918, sold in 1920 and resold in October 1921.

Many thanks to Wolfgang Stöhr for additional information on this page.