Henry’s guide to flagship fixing

Mary Rose drawing by Geoff Hunt courtesy of the Mary Rose Trust
Mary Rose drawing by Geoff Hunt courtesy of the Mary Rose Trust
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As ever, it was the little old apostrophe which caused most debate.

When you are preparing a workshop manual for the flagship of arguably the most influential monarch this country has had, surely it should belong to him?

Haynes workshop manual for the Mary Rose

Haynes workshop manual for the Mary Rose

We are talking Henry VIII here and the pride of his warring fleet with France, the Mary Rose.

However, ran the counter-argument, does not this icon of Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard belong to us all? Shouldn’t we all be given the chance to tinker under the bonnet of this 505-year-old grand old lady of the fleet?

‘Believe it or not we had a great debate about where to put that apostrophe,’ says award-winning author Brian Lavery.

‘In the end we decided it was highly unlikely that Henry VIII would get underneath her to scrape barnacles from her hull. So we gave it to the people.’

Mary Rose hull, courtesy Stephen Foote.' Copyright the Mary Rose Trust

Mary Rose hull, courtesy Stephen Foote.' Copyright the Mary Rose Trust

So from this week there is now a new member of the much-loved, much grease-spattered, Haynes manual family: Mary Rose Owners’ Workshop Manual.

Note the position of that apostrophe.

It was in 1956 that John Haynes wrote his first workshop manual for motors.

They quickly became a staple in every self-respecting car owner’s garage – those who reckoned they could do their own repairs. They are rather like travel guides to a foreign land – making the unfamiliar manageable.

Mary Rose Haynes guide author Brian Lavery

Mary Rose Haynes guide author Brian Lavery

And that’s what 70-year-old Brian, a curator emeritus at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, has done with the latest immaculately-presented volume from the stable.

It’s a brand, based in Sparkford, Somerset – a brand which has branched out from Renault 5s and Volvo 940s to Vulcan bombers and even Thunderbirds and Bob the Builder.

Brian, who had closely followed the Mary Rose story long before she was raised from the Solent seabed in 1982, said he was first approached by Haynes to write the book three years ago.

He had form, having previously written the Haynes SS Great Britain workshop manual.

‘I thought the Haynes format would work perfectly for the Mary Rose story,’ he adds.

But he had never studied Tudor ships in any great depth. ‘The farthest back I’d gone was to 1650 and suddenly I was researching and learning about naval ships from more than 100 years earlier.’

The manual first sets the ship in her historical context, exploring her role in the First and Second French Wars in 1512 and 1522 and her ‘final battle’ in 1545 when she heeled over and sank while making a turn in the Solent with Henry VIII looking on from Southsea Castle. She would remain under water for the next 437 years.

In typical Haynes fashion, the manual also takes a close look at the ship’s anatomy and key features, including her hull, bow, sterncastle and firepower.

Produced with the co-operation of the Mary Rose Trust, which gave Brian full access to the ship and her artefacts, as well as providing photographs and illustrations, the book concludes by examining the ship’s excavation, complex restoration and display at the stunning new Mary Rose Museum in the Historic Dockyard.

Brian says: ‘The problem of how to conserve and display the Mary Rose and her artefacts took several decades to resolve. But the result of that hard work is that we now know more than ever about Tudor maritime history and how ships like the Mary Rose played their part in the great conflicts of the day.’

He adds: ‘The book takes a practical look at how the ship was run including the daily roles and responsibilities of her crew members.

‘Crucially it also provides a detailed description of the complex task of sailing such a vast ship, including her reliance on favourable winds and tides in the Solent where she was built and sank.’

And why did she sink? Brian’s theory, as he explains in the book, is down to guns, the sheer weight of them.

‘When she was built in 1510 it was claimed she was the fastest ship in the fleet. It’s impossible to prove today, but she had a clean hull and the best crew because she was the king’s flagship.

‘She certainly wasn’t an ocean-racing greyhound in the later Clipper mould, but she was fast.

‘Not only could she sail with a wind behind her but also into the wind and with the wind coming from the side because her sails could be turned 45 degrees to catch it.’

But French galleys could, with the right wind, outmanoeuvre her.

‘This meant she had to have more guns over the years so she was covered from all angles. The king wanted them,’ says Brian. ‘She was also getting on a bit. She was 30 years old when she went down and serving in her third war.

‘On the day she sank she was sailing near sandbanks. We think she made a sudden turn, heeled over and, because of the weight of all those guns, couldn’t right herself so water flooded in through her open gunports.’

n The Haynes Mary Rose: King Henry VIII’s Warship 1510-45 Owners’ Workshop Manual is available from haynes.co.uk, price £25.


We’ve teamed up with Haynes to offer copies of the Mary Rose workshop manual to three lucky readers.

To be in with a chance of winning, answer the following questions:

n For how many years was the Mary Rose under water?

n In which Somerset village is Haynes based?

E-mail your answers to features@thenews.co.uk with ‘haynes competition’ in the subject field.

Or send your answers on a postcard to Haynes Competition, The News, 1000 Lakeside, North Harbour, Western Road, Portsmouth PO6 3EN.

Entries must be received by 6pm on Saturday, December 12, 2015.