ADMIRAL Lord Nelson’s famed flagship HMS Victory has always had a rich and colourful history – quite literally it would now appear.
Refurbishment of the iconic warship in Portsmouth has revealed the true colour of Victory’s hull which some people have claimed is a light pink.
Conservationists peeled back 72 layers of the paint from the original timber frame, examining them with microscopes.
They discovered the colour of Victory’s hull, when she fought in Trafalgar, was not the mustard-orange shade of old but in fact a terracotta or pink hue.
Andrew Baines, the head of historic ships at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, said: ‘I don’t think it was any great secret that the colour that we had was wrong. The question we had to answer was what was the right colour?
‘What we are looking at now we can say almost definitively, looking at all the archeological evidence, was the paint applied to the ship in 1805.
‘We are certain that this is the colour HMS Victory was at the time of Trafalgar when Nelson sailed out.’
The new colour has proved a talking point in the dockyard with the paint job meeting resistance by some visitors to the historic attraction, Mr Baines said.
Observers have said the colour varies depending on the light, with Victory appearing more pink on darker days.
However, Mr Baines added: ‘I don’t see the pink hue myself. It’s a pale ochre.’
But that is not all. Painstaking research by historians has unveiled the ship’s gun deck also had a colourful past being painted a shade of baby blue.
‘That really surprised us,’ admitted Mr Baines. ‘We’re not sure why it was this colour.’
The paint for the hull of the 227ft-long ship was produced by a specialist manufacture and based on the details given by researchers in Portsmouth.
Mr Baines said there was ‘good evidence’ that Admiral Lord Nelson may not have liked the colour and would have opted for an even lighter shade.
When launched in 1765, Victory’s sides were varnished bare timber.
But later 18th century captains were allowed to pick their own ship’s colour.
Richer captains chose more colourful pigments, while poorer ones, like Lord Nelson, opted for colours supplied for free by the Royal Navy.