Birthday celebrations on the old Foudroyant

HMS Trincomalee
HMS Trincomalee
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CELEBRATIONS have been held to mark the 200th anniversary of the launching of Britain’s oldest warship still afloat.

HMS Trincomalee, which for decades was used as a training ship in Portsmouth Harbour under the name of Foudroyant, is now berthed at The National Museum of the Royal Navy in Hartlepool.

The Foudroyant in Portsmouth Harbour in 1981

The Foudroyant in Portsmouth Harbour in 1981

The celebration, which took place at the museum at Jacksons Dock in Hartlepool, marked the bicentenary since the ship was built in Mumbai, India, in 1817 at a cost of £23,000.

The ship, named after the 1782 Battle of Trincomalee off the port of that name in Sri Lanka, was sailed to Portsmouth on an 18-month voyage.

This year also marks 30 years since HMS Trincomalee docked at Jackson Dock, which forms part of The National Museum of the Royal Navy’s historic fleet, alongside Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory, submarine HMS Alliance and Belfast’s First World War survivor HMS Caroline.

Trincomalee was sold off to an entrepreneur in 1897 and – renamed TS Foudroyant – was used as an accommodation ship, a training ship, and a holiday ship based in Falmouth and then Portsmouth.

HMS Trincomalee, which is still afloat at the museum, is one of the north east’s top attractions, and brings more than 50,000 visitors each year to the town. This year alone has seen an additional 11,500 visitors to its site.

More than £500,000 has been invested this year in the maintenance and conservation of the ship, which is the sole-surviving link with the 19th century Bombay shipyards.

In addition, over the last 22 years, more than £5m has been received through various Lottery-funded projects to maintain her.

Further improvements and required maintenance works have been scheduled, including a further £250,000 investment and completed crowdfunding campaigns helping to restore HMS Trincomalee’s rediscovered head and the launch of a new, educational activity zone for families.