Following an extensive repaint job to bring her colours up to an historically-accurate standard, HMS Victory at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard has now also undergone an interior overhaul, gloriously returning Nelson’s flagship to her Georgian heyday.
Visitors will have the chance to experience HMS Victory through Nelson’s eyes, as the drama of the battle unfolds deck-by-deck and hour-by-hour following the ship’s departure on September 14th 1805.
For the first time ever, Victory’s visitors will be able to ascend on the poop deck and see stunning views of the naval base and the dockyard, and will get to walk around Nelson’s Great Cabin, access the carpenter and bosun’s store, and see Hardy’s cabin displayed for the very first time as the working accommodation of a Captain.
The length of the visitor route onboard has been increased by as much as 80%, winding through areas previously unseen.
“This is the most exciting transformation of one of the world’s most iconic ships in nearly a century,” said Andrew Baines, Head of Historic Ships at The National Museum of the Royal Navy.
“The story of HMS Victory, and of Nelson, is now being told in a completely fresh way. The idea is to show visitors the ship as Nelson would have seen her, as part of an exciting new journey around his flagship.
“We also hope to bust old myths that have been talked about for years.”
Those busted myths include where Nelson slept; beliefs abound that he slept in a cot with drapes sewn by Lady Hamilton, and the refreshed HMS Victory will dismiss these ideas, as well as the myth that the biscuits onboard were infested with weevils.
Coinciding with the greatly improved visitor experience aboard HMS Victory is a new exhibition at The National Museum of the Royal Navy’s Victory Gallery, Sparring with Time, showcased in the building just opposite the ship. It tells the story of Nelson’s vessel as an object and historical artefact, and explores the ongoing work to build on the legacy of the ship.
Victory is now facing a new battle — one against time — and is currently undergoing a multi-million pound conservation programme. Visitors can also find out more about her history, her different colours, and take a closer look at how she is put together.
Professor Dominic Tweddle, Director General of The National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN), said: “Victory is iconic and it is very much cherished by the thousands who visit her every year. In fact, 28 million people have seen her since she arrived at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
“Now people can see her in a completely new light. Visitors will get to experience her anew, and see all of the wonderful areas of the ship that could not have been accessed until now.
“They will be able to follow in the footsteps of Nelson, and get a real picture of what life was like onboard Victory as she went to Trafalgar.”