Life at sea

Life at sea during the age of sail was filled with hardship. Sailors had to accept cramped conditions, disease, poor food, pay and bad weather.

In the 19th century, MP Samuel Plimsoll campaigned for load lines to be painted on the side of ships to prevent them being overloaded and sinking.

The introduction of steam power in the 19th century revolutionised the shipping industry and made Britain a world-leader in shipbuilding.

A captain going down with his sinking ship is one of the strongest and most honourable traditions of the sea.

The first naval Victoria Cross was awarded to Charles Lucas while serving as a Mate on HMS Hecla in 1854 during the Crimean War.

Tattoos have adorned the highest born royals and the lowliest sailor in Europe for at least 5,000 years.

From brass buttons to bell-bottoms, garments traditionally worn at sea have long been adopted and adapted to create new fashions and statements.

A Matthew Walker Knot keeps the end of a rope from fraying but its origins are a mystery.

Designers from Vivienne Westwood to Galliano and Chanel have all created collections inspired by naval wear and maritime culture. 

The ‘Vikings’ were seafaring raiders and traders from Scandinavia. The period known as the Viking Age lasted from AD 700 until 1100.

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