Ships & boats

From the story of the world's only surviving tea clipper, Cutty Sark, and the voyages of discovery made by Captain Cook's sloop HMS Resolution, to the evolution of shipbuilding and design through the ages, we delve into the fascinating history of ships and boats.

Beagle was a Royal Navy ship, famed for taking English naturalist Charles Darwin on his first expedition around the world in 1831–36.

Between the 17th and 19th centuries the general design of Royal Navy warships changed very little. The designs were standardized by the system of Establishments.

Henry VIII (1491–1547) is credited for establishing the Royal Navy – establishing Royal Dockyards and building new, innovative warships.

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.

Copper sheathing on hulls and lighter cannons are two examples of improvements in Royal Navy ship design in the 18th century.

The Mary Rose was a warship built in Portsmouth for King Henry VIII. She sank in 1545 and was recovered in 1981, with many artefacts still on board.

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.

While almost every ship model is different in its treatment of hull form and details, they fall into two principal types: the frame model and the block model. 

Launching ceremonies of times past were often more barbarous than the champagne tradition of today.

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