TEN oak and 11 elm trees will be used in the restoration of HMS Victory.
Donated by three Scottish estates, the wood will replace sections of Nelson’s famous flagship that are showing the ravages of time.
Andrew Baines, head of historic ships at Portsmouth’s National Museum of the Royal Navy, said the donations followed research into the ship’s make-up.
Mr Baines said using elm and oak would help return Victory to her original condition, as other timbers such as teak and iroko have been added to her over the decades. He said: ‘Currently, the ship comprises a variety of hardwoods from years of maintenance.
‘The return to oak is much welcomed. It demonstrates the serious archaeological research we are undertaking about the ship’s composition, from timber to paint analysis and our commitment to ensure she remains sustainable for centuries to come.’
HMS Victory was built 250 years ago from more than 5,500 oak trees, and the material even inspired the Royal Navy’s anthem, Heart of Oak.
The ship is in the midst of a 15-year conservation project.
Mr Baines said the research concluded oak was the best material for the ship. He said: ‘Interestingly, we understand that some 30 per cent of the fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar hailed from Scotland so it feels entirely appropriate that timber from these estates should be playing such a big part in her future security.’
Charles Pearson, owner of the Dunecht Estate, is donating 10 oaks and four elm trees while the Haddo Estate and the MacRobert Trust Estate are also donating elms. The timber will first be taken to the Whitney sawmill in Hereford for sawing. The oak is likely to become planking and the elm is to remain in large blocks needed for the keel.
Mr Baines said: ‘Those elms which may not be suited to the particular size and shape of the keel can be made into new gun-carriages.’
After it is moved to Portsmouth the wood will be seasoned for up to four years so it will be dry and strong when it is used.