When ships were made of wood and men of iron – Nostalgia

The magnificent 131-gun HMS Duke of Wellington dressed overall and firing a salute in Portsmouth Harbour, possibly 1897. Picture: PRDHS
The magnificent 131-gun HMS Duke of Wellington dressed overall and firing a salute in Portsmouth Harbour, possibly 1897. Picture: PRDHS
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No, this is not HMS Victory firing a broadside but HMS Duke of Wellington a ship twice the size of HMS Victory.

She was launched in 1852 as a first rate 131-gun sailing ship displacing 5,892 tons compared to Victory’s 3,500 tons.

Leigh Park estate after initial building. Here are the very early roads and houses, about 1950.

Leigh Park estate after initial building. Here are the very early roads and houses, about 1950.

She was to be named HMS Windsor Castle but as the Duke of Wellington died on the day of her launching, September 14, 1852, she was renamed in the great man’s honour.

At that time the navy had been using steam power on smaller ships for 30 years and with the adoption of the screw propeller the ship was cut apart in two places and 30 feet was added to her length and she was given second-hand 780hp engines.

After service in the Baltic it was found the conversion compromised her structural strength and she was paid off in 1856 at just four years old.

She arrived in Portsmouth Harbour in 1863 and was certainly a sight to behold.

She replaced HMS Victory as flagship for the Port Admiral, Portsmouth from 1869 to 1891 with Victory becoming her tender.

She was eventually sold to be broken up in 1904 and became a much-missed sight within the harbour as well as being a good reference point for dating old photographs.

This photo is reproduced with permission from the Portsmouth Royal Dockyard Historical Society.

• As we know, next year marks 70 years since the Leigh Park estate at Havant began to be constructed.

It was built to provide housing for the hundreds of people bombed out of their homes during the Second World War and and, of course, for returning servicemen and their families.

To ease your way around the photograph on the facing page, I have annotated it.

A is Dunsbury Way.

B was then called Botley Drive which turned into where E can be seen.

B was later called Purbrook Way and H is where Purbrook Way extends to today.

C is the Cricketers Tavern in Riders Lane with Stockheath Common opposite.

D is Eversley Crescent.

F is Park Lane which ran from Bedhampton to Cowplain.

And in the bottom right hand corner G is the former naval camp HMS Daedalus III which later became home to displaced persons and after them to residents awaiting a new house on the estate.