SOARING above the crowds, the top masts and rigging from HMS Victory will take centre stage at a boat show next year.
They were removed from Nelson’s 246-year-old flagship by engineers this summer at the start of a 10-year restoration project, as reported by The News.
Next month, visitors to the Tullett Prebon London Boat Show will have the chance to scale Victory’s rigging, which is usually suspended 150ft above her decks.
Experts will be on hand to winch people up the masts.
And sailors from the National Museum of the Royal Navy at Portsmouth will also provide visitors with the opportunity to explore a reconstructed traditional boatyard’s workshop.
The announcement comes as the MoD yesterday confirmed that BAE Systems will be in charge of completing the ambitious £16m restoration of Victory – the biggest since she returned from the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
BAE Systems project manager for HMS Victory John O’Sullivan said: ‘This phase of restorative work is necessary to guarantee Victory’s long-term future and our project team is looking forward to getting started on the job of maintaining the ship for future generations to enjoy.
‘During the recent removal of the top sections of the masts we have kept HMS Victory open to the public and it’s our intention to keep the ship open as we carry out the rest of the work.
‘The restoration will give the visiting public the opportunity to gain an even greater insight into the build of this iconic vessel.’
BAE Systems’ engineers will be working with Bell Rigging and T Nielsen & Company, helping to keep traditional wooden shipbuilding skills such as joinery alive.
As well as repairs to the masts and rigging, the team will survey the ship to prioritise the work that needs doing.
That is likely to include replacing the shipside planking and repairs to the middle-gun deck, as well as planned maintenance and the installation of a new system to tackle any fire that breaks out on board. An exhibition is taking place at the National Museum of the Royal Navy called Bones of Oak and Iron, to explain what is happening to HMS Victory and why the work needs to be done.
n Victory’s masts and rigging can be seen at the boat show which takes place at the ExCel centre in London between January 6 and 15.