HMS Victory is one of the most famous warships in history and it stands here in Portsmouth! This is the only surviving warship to have fought in the American War of Independence, The French Revolution and most famously The Napoleonic wars. Built in 1759, this ship was named Victory to commemorate the many recent naval victories and it did not disappoint, it was Lord Nelson’s flagship in 1805 during the battle of Trafalgar.
So how has this ship survived for so long? It was not always the pristine ship we see today and at many points she was in great disrepair. In 1831 the order was given to break up Victory and use her timbers for other vessels, however, a public outcry meant that Victory was saved and docked in Portsmouth dockyard. It was mainly Queen Victoria and Edward VII that saved this ship throughout the years by either raising publicity or personally campaigning against its scrapping.
Although this ship suffered many leaks which led to the ship nearly sinking many times (including being accidentally rammed by HMS Neptune!), it was agreed that in 1922 the ship would be put into a dry dock. At this point over a third of her internal fittings needed replacement. Restoration work was grounded to a halt during WWII and Victory was struck by a German bomb and German propaganda claimed the ship was destroyed. It wasn’t until 2005 that the ship was completed to its former glory, just in time to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar.
It truly is a historical landmark and well worth the trip – come to visit the oldest surviving warship in the oldest used dockyard!