Figurehead gets a new home

The restored figurehead  from HMS Calcutta.
The restored figurehead from HMS Calcutta.

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A COLOURFUL figurehead from an historic ship has been given a new home in Portsmouth.

The National Museum of the Royal Navy, at the city’s historic dockyard, has acquired the striking figurehead from HMS Calcutta.

The ship was built from teak in Bombay, India, and launched there in 1831.

She was decommissioned in Plymouth in 1908 and sold for breaking up.

But the 15ft-tall figurehead was given to the then First Sea Lord, Admiral Lord John Fisher. It has now been brought to Portsmouth.

Richard Noyce, from the National Museum of the Royal Navy, said: ‘It certainly looks impressive.

‘We’re delighted we were able to acquire and restore it.

‘All we have to do now is decide where we are going to put it.

‘It’s been suggested we could put it in the visitor centre but at the moment we are still deciding.

‘It’s a great piece of history.’

Until now, the figurehead has been at Admiral Lord Fisher’s home in Kilverstone Hall, near Thetford in Norfolk.

The National Museum of the Royal Navy had it restored by Devon sculptor Rod Hare and brought to the city by lorry.

HMS Calcutta was an 84-gun second-rate ship-of-the-line in service with the Royal Navy. She carried her complement of smooth-bore, muzzle-loading guns on two gundecks.

The ship had a complement of 720 men, including 38 officers, 69 petty officers, 403 seamen, 60 boys, and 150 marines.

In 1855, the ship was in reserve, but was recommissioned for the war between Russia and Britain and sailed for the Baltic. After two months she was sent home again, being useless for modern naval actions.