Life at sea

Gain a fascinating insight into the lives of sailors and seamen throughout history. From the protocols of the Royal Navy to the traditions, customs and working lives of 18th and 19th century crewmen, we explore what life was really like on the high seas.

C0508.jpg

The ‘standard’ nautical mile is taken as 6080 feet (1.151 statute miles or 1853 metres) and is the unit of length used in sea and air navigation.

Samuel Plimsoll PU3701_slider.JPG

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.

C5531-R.jpg

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

BHC0673.jpg

Every maritime nation can tell of captains who stayed with their ships until the last moment, and sometimes beyond.

Full dress coat - cuff detail, Royal Naval uniform- pattern 1856.jpg

The Royal Navy introduced coloured cloth on to their uniforms in 1863, so that it was possible to distinguish between naval departments.

fisrt naval victoria cross.jpg

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

large.jpg

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

USS Olympia (Cruiser #6), tattooing, circa 1899.jpg

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

Skudelev ship model D5240_slider.jpg

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

F2147-0B.jpg

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

Pages