A half-length figurehead of King Frederick William III of Prussia from HMS Frederick William (1860)

A half-length figurehead of King Frederick William III of Prussia (1770–1840). The name Royal Frederick was allocated to a 110-gun warship, but when finally launched as an 86-gun steam warship, it was renamed Frederick William (1860). The figurehead is based on contemporary illustrations and shows the king wearing a high-collared, blue uniform with red sash and epaulettes, but these may not be the original colours.

Frederick William’s forces played a significant role in the Napoleonic Wars. Although initially defeated by France, the Prussian army proved vital in defeating Napoleon in 1813–14 and again at Waterloo in June 1815 when its timely arrival secured victory for the allies.

The ship was renamed 'Worcester' in October 1876 and from 1877-1939 was lent by the Navy to act as the second of the boys' nautical training ships of that name in the Thames, off Greenhithe. From 1939 to 1945 the 'Worcester' Thames Nautical Training College (as it became) went ashore to Footscray Place for the duration of World War II. The 'Worcester' was again used by the Navy and officially handed it back in 1945. In July 1948 the Navy sold the ship for breaking up but transferred the figurehead to the third 'Worcester'. This was the former London training ship 'Exmouth' – a specially built steel vessel of 1904, but looking much like her predecessor – which the college took over at the end of the war.

Object Details

ID: FHD0077
Collection: Figureheads
Type: Figurehead
Display location: Display - Neptune Court
Vessels: Frederick William (1860)
Date made: 1860
People: King Frederick William III of Prussia
Credit: National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Measurements: Overall: 2743 mm x 1600 mm x 1118 mm

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