New show puts Victory work in the spotlight

RESTORATION Planking work on HMS Victory
RESTORATION Planking work on HMS Victory

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VISITORS to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard will be given the chance to get under HMS Victory’s skin as part of a new exhibition.

The display called Bones of Oak & Iron – Beneath Victory’s Skin will explain how Nelson’s famous flagsnip the vessel was built in 1759 and how she was preserved and cared for in war and peace.

It will also reveal the detailed story behind the multi-million pound restoration process that will cover the next 10 years.

Visitors can explore interactive displays and exhibits at the National Museum of the Royal Navy before getting a look at Victory up close.

The museum’s director general Professor Dominic Tweddle said: ‘HMS Victory is a national icon.

‘We’re determined that by opening this unique exhibition and keeping Victory open to the public throughout the restoration work, visitors can share in the excitement and even thrills of this continuing story.’

Visitors to the exhibition will be able to explore the story through computer displays, archive film footage, display panels, ‘did you know’ facts and various hands-on displays.

The exhibition will show how Victory undergoes a major programme of maintenance and repair, in which her topmasts and rigging will be taken down and her planking will be thoroughly examined.

Historic dockyard officials say the repair process is not unusual as wooden ships such as Victory needed constant care and attention from the day they are launched.

Jacquie Shaw, head of communications and operations at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, added: ‘Our visitors are always fascinated by the conservation of HMS Victory and we are keen to demonstrate that the work involved in looking after the most famous ship in the world is ongoing and vital.

Visitors are intrigued to realise that ships like Victory were regularly refitted and this is just another phase in her life.

‘The maintenance work becomes part of the visitor experience and we will do our best to ensure that disruption is kept to a minimum and to interpret the work being done so visitors appreciate the considerable skill and effort which is required to keep her ship-shape.’