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 celebration, which took place at the museum at Jacksons Dock in Hartlepool yesterday, 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 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.
The Mayor of Hartlepool, Coun Paul Beck said he was delighted to be able to honour the anniversary. He said: “I am absolutely thrilled to be here at this celebration.
“The HMS Trincomalee is so important to this town and important to our tourism industry and to the businesses around the marina, adding to their income.
“The Royal Naval Museum here in Hartlepool has been a fantastic achievement and I know there is a lot of jealousy around the country who would love to have this facility.
“We as a local authority are determined to get behind the Royal Naval Museum and make it a fantastic success for years to come.”
Lord Eric de Saumarez, the President of the Friends of HMS Trincomalee, added: “I am delighted to be here, so few ships have floated for 200 years, it is a real achievement and a tribute to the standard of restoration.”
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 HMS Trincomalee, which has contributed to Tees Valley and Hartlepool’s leisure economies.
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.
Roslyn Adamson, general manager at The National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool, said: “HMS Trincomalee is one of the region’s key landmarks and visitor attractions, and we are fortunate to have her on our doorstep.
“She has contributed a great deal to the Tees Valley and Hartlepool’s economic wellbeing for the past 30 years, as she continues to welcome thousands of visitors each year.
“It is important to recognise her bicentenary and historical standing as Britain’s oldest warship still afloat. “The public have played a key role in helping to secure funding through donations, together with the support of The National Museum of the Royal Navy, and we are hoping this will continue so more people can enjoy her rich heritage, as well as attract more people to the North East and Hartlepool.”