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Builders model believed to be HMS DUKE OF WELLINGTON

Date: c 1850
Overall: 230 x 810 x 190 mm
Medium: Pear wood, box wood
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Mary Bayldon
Object Name: Model
Object No: 00009357
Place Manufactured:England

User Terms

    Believed to represent the HMS DUKE OF WELLINGTON, this builder's model shows the warship on stocks in a dockyard. It shows the form of construction of round bow and stern introduced by Sir Robert Seppings.
    SignificanceWhen completed on 4 February 1853, HMS DUKE OF WELLINGTON - with a length 73.1 meters (240 feet) and carrying 131 cannon, was the largest vessel yet built for the Royal Navy It was twice the size of Nelson's VICTORY.

    HistoryHMS DUKE OF WELLINGTON was a 131 gun First-Rate ship of the line; in 1854 and 1855 she was the flagship of the Royal Navy fleet sent into the Baltic during the Anglo-Russian war (later known as the Crimean War) initially under command of Vice Admiral Sir Charles Napier and subsequently under Rear Admiral Richard Dundas, who went back into the Baltic as Napier's successor during the second year of the war and carried out the bombardment of Sveaborg.

    She was the first of a class of four ships of the line representing the apogee of development of the wooden three-decker ship, which had been the principal capital ship in naval warfare for more than 150 years. Originally ordered in 1841 to a design by Sir William Symonds, she was not laid down until May 1849 at Pembroke Dock in Wales.The design by Sir Robert Seppings was a major leap forward in the design of first rate ships for the Royal Navy. The design used iron brassings which exponentially increased the stiffness and thus seaworthyness of ships in the Royal Navy.

    At this stage the ship, first named HMS WINDSOR CASTLE, was still intended as a sailing vessel. Although the Royal Navy had been using steam propulsion in much smaller vessels since the late 1820s, it had not yet been applied to large ships, partly because the large paddle-boxes required would have brought about an appreciable reduction in the number of guns that could be carried. This problem was solved by the adoption of the screw propeller in the 1840s.

    Under a program announced by the Admiralty in December 1851 to provide the Navy with a steam-driven battle fleet, the design was further modified by the RN's new surveyor, Captain Baldwin Walker.

    In January 1852 the ship was cut in two while on the stocks, lengthened by 30 feet (9.1 m) overall and given screw propulsion. She was fitted with the 780 hp engines designed and built by Robert Napier for the iron frigate "Simoon".

    The WINDSOR CASTLE was launched on 14 September 1852, the day the Duke of Wellington died, and was subsequently re-named in his honour and provided with a new figurehead modelled on the duke's likeness. Powered by steam and sail,
    she reflected a new mindset of the mid-Victorian RN that was willing to embrace and experiment with new technology.

    When completed on 4 February 1853, HMS DUKE OF WELLINGTON - with a length 240 feet (73.1 m) displacement of 5892 tons, and carrying 131 cannon, weighing a total of 382 tons and mainly firing 32 lb. balls- was the largest vessel yet built for the Royal Navy; it was twice the size of Nelson's VICTORY and with a far heavier broadside.

    After service in the Western Squadron of the Channel Fleet, she was designated the flagship of the fleet that Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Napier was to lead to the Baltic following the outbreak of the Russian (Crimean) War in October 1853.

    Under trials on 11 April 1853 she had made 10.15 knots under steam and she proved a good sailing ship, but the 'second-hand' engines that had been fitted turned out unsatisfactory and it was felt that her structural integrity had been compromised by the lengthening of the hull; consequently she saw no active service after the Crimean War and paid off in 1856.

    She subsequently served as guard ship of vessels in 'sailing ordinary' (moth-balled sailing vessels kept in reserve) at Devonport from 1860-63, then as a 'receiving ship' (where new recruits were initially accommodated and 'rated') for Portsmouth from 1863.

    She replaced HMS VICTORY as the Port Admiral's flagship at Portsmouth from 1869 to 1891, firing salutes from time to time to passing dignitaries, such as Queen Victoria on her way to Osborne House (IoW)

    She then served as flagship for the Commander-in-Chief from 24 October 1884 until 1886 and for Queen Victoria's birthday celebration and fleet review at Portsmouth in 1896. She was commanded by future RN admiral, Captain David Beatty, between 1900 and 1902. In 1903 the men stationed on her eventually moved into the RN Barracks in Portsmouth and in 1904 the DUKE OF WELLINGTON was finally sold to a wrecker's yard at Charlton to be broken up.

    She was the product of an obsolete idea of naval firepower. With recent improvements in accuracy and reliability of British naval guns there was no longer a need for ships to mount large numbers of guns, but it would take another decade for this to be fully appreciated and taken into consideration by naval architects.

    During low tides at Charlton, formerly the location of Castle’s Ship Breakers Yard, in June and July 2009, archaeological survey and recording by members of the Thames Discovery Project found a ‘stack’ of well-preserved, very large ships timbers, thought to include remains of the DUKE OF WELLINGTON.

    Additional Titles

    Web title: Builders model believed to be HMS DUKE OF WELLINGTON

    Assigned title: Ship's model, purported to be HMS DUKE OF WELLINGTON

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