Getting myself ready for the Trafalgar 200 celebrations/commemorations, I read through a couple of the information booklets issued by the Portsmouth Council and by the Navy, which I will be giving to our guests.
HMS Victory plays a lead role in all of this of course, and every pamphlet I have seen covers the Victory bit with the proverbial pictures, but an inadequate text!
Her life story from her birth at Chatham to post Trafalgar is well known, and her days afloat in the middle of Portsmouth's harbour until 1922 were regularly painted and later on, regularly photographed.
You will recall that by 1922 the Victory was more or less dropping to pieces, and it was decided to tow her into the oldest dry dock in the world sited in Portsmouth Naval Dockyard, where she remains to this day. On first being put in the dock, the Victory was in a cradle of iron and cement to stop her literally disintegrating.
Now comes the inadequate text I mention above.
The Victory had been sitting in the oldest dry dock in the world for some time, cradled in the arms of the cement and iron corset, when all of a sudden, the then Commander-in-Chief, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Doveton Sturdee thought up the idea of restoring the Victory to its former Glory at Trafalgar some 117 years before. His idea won immediate favour with the nation and with the purse-string holders in Government. The day to start the restoration was chosen as the anniversary of Lord Howe's victory at the battle of The Glorious First of June in 1794, and the dignitaries were called together to witness the first 'new nail' of restoration being hammered home: one of the Chief Guests was Lord Howe, a direct descendant of the famous old Admiral of the 18th century. For six long years, the dockyard workers toiled and finally, on July the 17th 1928, King George V and Queen Mary came to Portsmouth to unveil a plaque giving details of the restored ship. In the next year 1929, every Tom, Dick and Harry visited the Victory including the King and Queen of Afghanistan. Take a look at this very special picture of the 'old' and the 'new' together
So, this coming summer, impart this knowledge to all and sundry and let us get the nation knowing the "adequate" story of this wonderful old ship and what she stands for.
Take care now.