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HMS Victory marks 100-year milestone by preparing for her next half century

12 January 2022
ONE hundred years to the day that the world’s most famous warship entered her current home, work begins on preserving HMS Victory for the next half century.

Exactly a century after Nelson’s flagship was moved from the harbour into Dry Dock No.2 in Portsmouth Naval Base to protect her for future generations, today’s conservationists start work on the next step in looking after the veteran of Trafalgar.

A 15-year programme of work is planned on the legendary man o’war which will complete her transformation both as a visitor experience and to display how the great ship looked in her heyday more than 200 years ago.

The £35m package involves removing rotting planking from her hull and replacing it with new oak, repairing Victory’s structural framework, and finally fully re-rigging the flagship.

It will take at least ten years, perhaps 15, but it will give those who visit Victory the unique experience of see beneath the ship’s ‘skin’ and observe the effort it takes to conduct a ‘great repair’ (today a major refit) of a First-Rate Line-of-Battle ship. 

Having been retired from active service as a fighting warship after Trafalgar, Victory spent the remainder of the 19th Century in varied roles – troopship, tender, floating museum in Portsmouth and finally a signal school for sailors – sank at least once and was poorly maintained by the Admiralty.

Amid growing concern the ship was at risk and growing public clamour she was towed from her berth in the harbour to the dry dock where she now rests as 1922 began – heralding a six-year ‘Save the Victory’ campaign to restore the ship and create a museum – now part of the National Museum of the Royal Navy – to celebrate her deeds and her sailors.

She was re-opened to the public by King George V in July 1928, since when she’s welcomed more than 30 million visitors.

The new phase of the conservation/restoration of Victory is one of three major projects the National Museum is undertaking in 2022.

This summer it will unveil the £1m upgrade to the Aircraft Carrier Experience at the Fleet Air Arm Museum in Yeovilton.

It will link the heyday of jet aviation with operations involvement and the deployments of today’s Queen Elizabeth-class carriers and their F-35 stealth fighters.

The revamp will create a new immersive experience blending the latest digital tech with the scale of a carrier flight deck and aircraft from the museum’s collection.

And in Hartlepool, from Easter the museum – centred on the 19th Century frigate HMS Trincomalee – hosts the popular Horrible Histories’ Pirates exhibition.

Based on the best-selling series by Terry Deary and illustrator Martin Brown, it takes an irreverent look at pirates, giving youngsters an action-packed, hands-on romp through \the mysterious and murky world of pirates across the ages.  

All pictures courtesy of the National Museum of the Royal Navy.

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