Twenty-Five years ago this Saturday (16th June, 2012) HMS Warrior 1860 completed her exciting journey from Hartlepool following an extensive restoration to her former glory, as she came to rest as an iconic landmark at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
On Friday 12th June 1987, Warrior left Hartlepool to begin her journey home. Her farewell was provided by a selection of craft including the Royal Navy frigate HMS Arrow, the Harbourmaster’s launch, the Hartlepool lifeboat and approximately 40 fishing vessels. During her homecoming, Warrior and those fortunate enough to be aboard enjoyed a calm and sun-drenched journey. Her crew experienced the sights, sounds and smells of her coming to life as she headed homewards.
Four days after her departure from Hartlepool, Warrior was welcomed home surrounded by an entourage of small boats, cheers from the crowds that lined her way, and rockets launched in celebration from HMS Dolphin in Gosport.
At 1700 on Tuesday 16th June 1987, Warrior was home. She opened shortly afterwards to welcome her first visitors on Monday 27th July 1987.
To celebrate this significant year, HMS Warrior 1860 is hosting a ‘Homecoming Ball’ on Friday 27th July, which will be attended by many of those who have been involved with her history. For further details and pricing for tickets to attend, please contact the Events Team 023 9277 8604 firstname.lastname@example.org.
HMS Warrior, launched in 1860, was the ultimate deterrent of her day. She represented a giant leap forward in naval architecture and weaponry and took 35 months to complete. Yet, so revolutionary was Warrior and such was the pace of technological progress that, within 10 years, she was obsolete and spent the next 100 years as a depot ship, a storage hulk and then formed part of the Royal Navy Torpedo Training School at Portsmouth. Finally, after 40 years as an oil jetty in Milford Haven and a further decade of campaigning for her restoration, supported by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, she was rescued and towed to Grays Shipyard in Hartlepool, arriving on the 3rd September 1979, to be restored to her original glory.
After so many years of going unnoticed, considerable research was needed to establish exactly what the ship had been like. The National Museum of the Royal Navy (formerly Royal Naval Museum) stepped in to help after unearthing the remarkable journal of Henry Murray, a 14 year old Midshipman in 1861. Murray had drawn plans and diagrams recording in meticulous detail all the fittings and equipment, showing where everything went. With the aid of this journal, every detail, however minute, was lovingly recreated – from the magnificent Penn steam engine to the gilded figurehead; from the officers’ cabins to the mess tables and guns used by the crew.
“If every warship in the 19th century still existed and was available for preservation Warrior would still be my first choice”. Sir John Smith
After eight years of skilful rebuilding, made possible thanks to the generosity and vision of one man – Sir John Smith[i], HMS Warrior 1860 was restored to her 1861 condition and now with her Red Ensign flying as per her original prominence in the fleet, is a tribute to Victorian innovation, the skills of her restorers and to the Warrior Preservation Trust.
Notes For Editors
[i]The campaign to restore HMS Warrior began in 1967, championed by John Smith, the MP for the Cities of London and Westminster, who had formed the Manifold Trust five years earlier to restore threatened items of our national heritage. Even the House of Commons heard of Warrior''s fate. MPs were told that Warrior could serve as "a potent source of education and inspiration for our children....."
Smith’s drive and persistence led to a committee, chaired by the Duke of Edinburgh, who met in 1968 to discuss Warrior’s future. From this emerged the Maritime Trust, formed to raise money for the preservation of our naval heritage. Sir John Smith agreed that the Manifold Trust would underwrite the cost of restoration, estimated between £4-8 million, and the ship was handed over to the Maritime Trust in 1979.
In 1983 ownership was then transferred to the Ship’s Preservation Trust, which became the Warrior Preservation Trust in 1985.