King's College London
Exhibitions & Conferences
Voyage to Madagascar: Thomas Locke Lewis and the Anglo-Merina Treaty of 1817

Defensive possibilities

A bay with palm trees in the foregroundEngraving of the bay of TamataveHand-drawn map of MadagascarPlan of the bay of Tamatave, from Voyage to MadagascarLewis, being trained as an engineer, had an interest in the infrastructural merits of the island for both war and trade.

When entering the Bay of Tamatave, he comments that it is deep enough to accommodate ships of the line and merchantmen, and that a nearby coastal area is appropriate for ordnance. Indeed, the area was already home to a set of batteries, possible remnants of the former French occupation.

On another occasion, Lewis was able to accompany the master of one of the British frigates that had journeyed to the island on a survey of two channels, as well as the coast of the nearby Prune Island.

Lewis notes depths, the directions of the channels, the kind of sand on their beds, which could be an important consideration for anchorages, and the notable points that could be seen ashore from his position.

He also comments on the marine topography around Prune Island. It is possible that the activity was intended to establish which classes of ship could enter the channels and navigate the shores of Prune Island, all of which would have been of importance to trading and military vessels (pp 4-6, 60-63).

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