With flags fluttering in the July sunshine, the event marked the completion of a four-year conservation project made possible by a grant of £3.2 million from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the launch of an all-new visitor experience on board.
Speaking at the event, Andrew Baines, Deputy Director of Historic Ships of The National Museum of the Royal Navy said:
"Over the past four years a dedicated team has followed in the footsteps of the men and women who built the ship, the crew who sailed her and the people who restored her. The replacement of the bulwarks will help ensure Warrior’s survival for the next 150 years, whilst the digitisation of the archive and the opening of new spaces on board makes good on our commitment to National Lottery players to share the secrets of shipwrights and sailors."
Conserving HMS Warrior
HMS Warrior was launched in 1860 and was an engineering marvel - the biggest and fastest ship of its time and the pride of the Victorian Royal Navy. The main aim of the conservation project, which has seen parts of the iconic ship hidden behind scaffolding in recent years, was to replace the bulwarks - the walls around the upper deck. Originally restored in Hartlepool, 30 years of exposure to the elements had seen them corrode and rot, allowing rainwater to seep in and threaten the original fabric of the ship. Now complete, the structural enhancements will ensure the preservation of HMS Warrior for many decades to come.
HMS Warrior’s archive and the ‘Round-Britain Tour’ of 1863
Funding has made possible the digitisation and cataloguing of Warrior's vast archive, meaning it is now available to access online. This insight into the ship’s history has paved the way for radical changes and re-focussing of the way in which HMS Warrior’s story is shared with visitors.
In 1863 HMS Warrior embarked on a 'thank you' publicity tour around Britain, offering an opportunity for the Royal Navy showcase the ingenuity and technology behind the ship as well as to show tax-payers how their money was being spent. According to records over 700,000 visitors boarded the ship during her 12-week tour of Britain.
What’s new on board
In total a dozen areas of the ship including the captain's cabin, galley and cabins belonging to senior officers have been opened to the public for the first time. Each is packed with historically accurate details, from the heavy diving equipment used by men to repair the hull, to the first washing machines to have been included on a ship and kit bags named with an authentic roll call of the crew.
Across all four decks, visitors can encounter costumed actors, each portraying a colourful character linked to the Round-Britain tour, while there are also opportunities for visitors of all ages to try their hand at basic sword-fighting and flag signalling - an essential means of communication at sea.
Experience the changes for yourself onboard Warrior
Discover the stories and people from the Round-Britain tour like never before. Book online and save 20% on a Full Navy Ticket.