In his seminal work entitled British Battleships, first published in 1956, Dr. Oscar Parkes wrote:
"The Inflexible is one of the milestones of British naval architecture.. and stands out as the greatest of Barnaby's conceptions by virtue of novelty in design.. She was certainly an extraordinary ship."
Conceived to mount massive guns housed in an impregnable central turret or 'citadel', Inflexible was designed by Nathaniel Barnaby, the talented Director of Naval Construction, and laid down at Portsmouth in 1874. Launched in April 1876 and finally commissioned in July 1881, she was armed with the largest guns in the fleet, carried two 60-foot torpedo boats in addition to her own torpedo equipment with the first submerged tubes, and was the first battleship to be electrically lit throughout. Displacing 11,880 tons and measuring 344 feet in length with a 75 foot beam, she had a maximum speed of almost 15 knots and was more than a match for any other capital ship in the world when she was completed.
The 'pride of the fleet' when she entered service, she performed splendidly at the bombardment of Alexandria in 1882 although this exploit showed up certain defects in her design which were rectified when she came home to Portsmouth from the Mediterranean in 1885. Recommissioned in 1887, the pace of technological change soon rendered her obsolete however and she was finally broken up in 1903 after spending most of her life either in Reserve or as the portguard ship at Portsmouth. Notwithstanding this, she was - as Dr. Parkes has said - "an extraordinary ship" and one of those many innovative Victorian naval creations which kept the 'Pax Britannica' throughout the entire nineteenth century.