During the Battle of Trafalgar, the men on the gun decks of HMS Victory felt the heat of fire from above and from below; they dodged enemy cannon balls shot from just 2 metres away. HMS Victory was the flagship of Nelson's fleet during that historic clash with the French and Spanish on the 21st of October 1805. She is a mighty vessel to behold; at over 70m long, 6000 oaks were felled for her planking and 27 miles of rope used for her rigging. She was and still is a feat of engineering with impressive firepower-104 state of the art guns and manned by a crew of over 800.
Dan walks the gun decks with Andrew Baines, Deputy Executive Director of Museum Operations National Museum of the Royal Navy, who knows everything there is to know about Victory. They talk about life on board the ship, from punishment to surgery to using the bathroom and tell the story of Nelson's dramatic demise on the very spot where he was shot in battle.
The reason Dan is visiting Portsmouth's historic dockyard is because there is a huge restoration project going on to save Victory and preserve it for future generations. As a wooden ship, she is inherently biodegradable so Andrew and his team are working around the clock for the next decade to restore the ship as she was at the Battle of Trafalgar. Today the ship's greatest foe is not the French but the deathwatch beetle that Burroughs into the wood ship's timbre, destroying it from the inside. Dan meets with Diana Davis, Deputy Director of the Victory Conservation Project, to talk about this nemesis and the vital, and costly, work they are doing. Now is a great time to experience HMS Victory as you've never seen her before while archeologists and conservators work on the ship in front of your eyes. You can find out more information here: https://www.nmrn.org.uk/visit-us/portsmouth-historic-dockyard/hms-victory
Produced by Mariana Des Forges and mixed by Dougal Patmore.