Fans of the nautical, the meticulous or the random will be fascinated by this selection of paintings, maps, charts and photographs from the archives of the famous museum in Greenwich, London.
It’s fair to say that whilst we’ve fallen in love with many of the eclectic and extraordinary images housed at the National Maritime Museum archive, we’re no nautical experts. So we’ve turned to the curators to shed some light onto their most revered images.
”The Admiralty Ships Plans Collection is the largest of its kind held by the National Maritime Museum. Covering 250 years of warship development, it documents the period of relative design stability that prevailed throughout the age of sail, and the great upheavals and advances in naval technology of the 19th century and after. Nominally technical working drawings, the plans of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras display an extraordinary degree of artistry, down to the application of colour wash highlights and shading to individual shells in the ships’ magazines.
Some of the greatest vessels in the Royal Navy’s history are represented; Victory, Speedy, Warrior, Captain, Devastation, and Dreadnought to name but a few. However, while the Collection preserves the memory of ships that achieved fame in service or for being marvellous technological milestones, it also does the same for those that did not achieve such stature – including HMS Hector.
Hector and her sister Valiant were conceived and designed as cheaper alternative to the highly expensive Warrior and Black Prince. This did not necessarily make them poor ships, but the attempt to achieve too much on a limited displacement caused difficulties in the construction of both ships. When completed, Hector was so far above her designed weight that her coal capacity and guns had to be reduced to compensate. This attempt to save weight probably contributed to omission of hoisting mechanisms for the ship’s propeller, originally designed to be lifted clear of the water when she relied on sail power. At sea the ship proved manoeuvrable, but had an unfortunate tendency to roll heavily. Nonetheless, Hector remained in service until 1885. She ended her days as a floating torpedo warfare school, and in 1900 had the distinction of being the first Royal Navy ship to be fitted with a wireless transmitter.”
Fascinating stuff. Here at Surface View, we love bringing plans to life on a big scale. You’ll find HMS Hector among many other vessels in our NMM archive here.