Lord Nelson's HMS Victory warship to get £35m conservation work

Undated handout file photo issued by National Museum of the Royal Navy of HMS Victory.

£35m is to be spent to conserve Lord Nelson's ship HMS Victory. - Credit: PA

A £35m conservation project to renovate Lord Nelson's flagship has been announced - on the 100th anniversary of it being brought into dry dock.

HMS Victory, which carried Norfolk-born sailor to triumph at the Battle of Trafalgar, and bore his body back to England afterwards, will have major work carried out on it.

The ship, on which Lord Nelson died after being shot during the decisive naval battle with the French and Spanish in 1805, was brought into dry dock at Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard on January 12, 1922.

HMS Victory

HMS Victory in dry dock no. 2 at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard circa 1928. - Credit: PA

The warship has been undergoing a 20-year period of conservation including recently having its mast removed, with the next stage of work, which will include replacing rotting planks, now being unveiled.

A dockyard spokeswoman said: “Rotting planking will be removed from the hull and replaced with new oak, repairs made to the ship’s structural framework, and she will be fully re-rigged, in a process lasting 10 to 15 years and costing £35m.

“The project will provide visitors with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to see beneath Victory’s skin and experience a first-rate line-of-battle ship being taken through a great repair.”

First floated at Chatham in 1765, the ship continued to be used after the Battle of Trafalgar, but deteriorated to such an extent that it ended up berthed at Portsmouth Harbour.

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After HMS Victory was put into dry dock, it was opened as a museum ship by King George V on July 17, 1928 and has welcomed more than 30 million visitors since.

Made of oak, HMS Victory cost £65,000 to build and is the oldest naval ship in the world still in commission.

Admiral Lord Nelson, 1801 by William Beechey

Admiral Lord Nelson, 1801 by William Beechey. - Credit: Norfolk Museums Service

Lord Nelson, who was born in Burnham Thorpe, was aboard the ship on October 21, 1805, when he led 27 British ships to battle in the Atlantic Ocean, just west of Cape Trafalgar in Spain.

The British defeated the 33-strong French and Spanish fleets, which lost 22 ships.

But Lord Nelson, quoted as once declaring "I am a Norfolk man and Glory in being so", did not survive the battle - he was struck by a French musketeer's bullet.

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