Last week I took a trip to Hartlepool to see what the shipwrights up there had done to what was the Foudroyant.
As most of you will know, the Foudroyant was moored up in Portsmouth Harbour for years and was used to train youngsters in the way of the sea.
Launched in Bombay, India in October 1817 as the HMS Trincomalee, the ship cost £23,000 to build and was sailed to Portsmouth Dockyard, arriving on April 30, 1819. The long journey cost the equivalent of £6,600 and the ship was eventually put into reserve until 1845.
She later did stirling work in the Americas in an anti-slavery role and also served in the Pacific.
Sold for scrap in 1897, she was saved by George Cobb who renamed her Foudroyant after a former ship that was lost in 1897.
After her first rescue from the scrappers she was then used as a training and holiday ship based in Falmouth and then Portsmouth.
Eventually she became a little too tired and, being considered a potential liability, was taken out of service in 1986.
A trust was formed to save the historic old ship once more, led in part by Reg Betts, the then defence correspondent of The News, which aimed to preserve the ship and bring her back to her former glory.
This was accomplished and now she is technically the oldest ship afloat because the HMS Victory still lies in dry dock.
All I can say is fantastic. As you know, the men of the town took over the ship and rebuilt her. From talking to the locals, I know they were not best pleased to lose her after all the work they did.
I must admit that walking around the ship was a joy. She has a ‘lived in’ feel about her, unlike the Victory which is a little too clinical and smart I feel.
There are men in hammocks and a cook in the galley (all mannequins of course) but they are all very lifelike.
I know it is a long way to travel, but if you are ever on holiday up that way do go and have a visit. You will not regret it. I will include a couple more photographs of the ship on Monday.