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.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806–1859) was a renowned 19th century engineer. His achievements include the steamships Great Western, Great Britain and Great Eastern.

Toll for the brave – the story of the Royal George and how it went down in a home port with huge loss of life.

In the 17th and 18th centuries there were six Royal Navy Dockyards in England, at Deptford, Woolwich, Chatham, Sheerness, Portsmouth and Plymouth.

William Bligh was an officer in the Royal Navy and was the victim of a mutiny on his ship, the Bounty, in 1789.

In the 18th century the Royal Navy began using copper sheathing to protect their ships from teredo worm, also known as shipworm.

Yinka Shonibare MBE explores colonialism and post-colonialism in his art. Nelson's Ship in a Bottle was acquired by the NMM in 2012.

Erskine Childers wrote The Riddle of The Sands, a bestselling Edwardian spy novel. The logbooks that inspired him are in the National Maritime Museum.

Great Eastern was a huge steamship launched in 1858, designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The ship was so big it wasn’t fit for purpose.

Models of many of the Royal Navy’s ships were constructed by order of the Royal Navy Board, many of which still survive today. 

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