How a new West Ham United crest is keeping strong links between the football club and HMS Warrior

PUBLISHED: 12:00 13 December 2015 | UPDATED: 10:52 14 December 2015

HMS Warrior, image courtesy of The National Museum of the Royal Navy

HMS Warrior, image courtesy of The National Museum of the Royal Navy

HMS Warrior

Find out how the newly-designed Hammers crest has reaffirmed the club’s relationship with the Royal Navy’s HMS Warrior 1860

Thames Ironworks FC line up for a photo call in the club's inaugural seasonThames Ironworks FC line up for a photo call in the club's inaugural season

The redesign of West Ham’s football badge last year not only enabled Hammers fans to express their passion for their team but also pride in their club’s heritage.

The club’s decision to adopt a new crest that symbolised the club’s historical roots was met with wide endorsement from its supporters.

The newest crest – the 16th in the club’s 120-year history – adopts hammers inspired from the 1920s programme designs plus the original Thames Ironworks tool.

In addition, the shape of the shield has been composed from a cross section of HMS Warrior’s hull.

A new crest was unveiled by West Ham United in 2014 that acknowledged its history with Thames IronworksA new crest was unveiled by West Ham United in 2014 that acknowledged its history with Thames Ironworks

The new design sheds light on the fascinating relationship between West Ham Football Club and HMS Warrior 1860.

While they may seem like strange bedfellows, the connection between the two extends back more than 120 years. It’s a bond formed of iron – Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company to be precise – a former shipyard and ironworks company that operated in Limmo Peninsula, near Canning Town.

Although it operated for just 75 years, its influence was significant, says Tim Ash, Chief Executive and Captain of HMS Warrior 1860.

“The Ship [HMS Warrior] and the Club [West Ham] have shared parentage in being ‘built’ by Thames Ironworks Shipbuilding,” he says.

At its peak, the company employed 6,000 people and constructed vessels for navels across the world, its most notable success being HMS Warrior 1860.

At 9,210 tons, she was the largest warship ever built at the time of launch and was the pride of Queen Victoria’s fleet.

However the company’s successes surpassed shipbuilding alone thanks to its philanthropist managing director, Arnold Hills.

In 1895, Arnold was asked by one of his foremen, Dave Taylor, if he could form a works football team.

Arnold was a clean-living amateur sportsman and thought it an excellent idea for his workforce, says Tim.

“Back in the 19th century this was a common thing as it was a decision to keep people away from drinking,” he explains.

A 50-strong squad of amateur players was assembled and the team played its first competitive fixture on 12 October 1895, watched by a crowd of 3,000 people.

The club soon joined the London League (although it was still officially part of Essex at that time), becoming hugely successful in the process. It later moved to the Memorial Grounds in West Ham in 1897, a stadium that housed 100,000 spectators.

Just one year later, with a host of new professional players and trainer, Jack Ratcliffe, “The Irons” as the club was known, had won 19 of its 22 matches.

However, change arrived in 1900 after Arthur Hills company acquired another engineering firm in a takeover.

In July of that year, Thames Ironworks F.C was dissolved and reformed under the new name of West Ham United.

However, in a mark of spirit, the original club crest incorporated a crossed pair of riveting hammers, symbols of shipbuilding yard, plus the claret and sky blue house colours of the actual Iron Works.

The hammers have continued to feature in West Ham’s badge until this day and is the reason why the club has its current nickname.

The latest changes are something that only further secures this relationship ahead of next year’s stadium move, says Tim.

“We are delighted West Ham FC has chosen to look at their heritage. We would warmly welcome exploring with them how we might develop a mutually beneficial campaign towards the formal change, and their move into the new stadium,” he adds.

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