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Media trips promoting tourist attractions
By Marie Carter, Senior Consultant at Recognition PR
HMS Trincomalee, the last of the commissioned frigates of the Nelson era and Britain’s oldest warship still afloat today, lies berthed at Hartlepool’s Historic Quay where she has been a major tourist attraction for the past 27 years. This week, she played host to visiting members of the media from the North East and Yorkshire who learned about this majestic ship from some extremely knowledgeable guides.
HMS Trincomalee has a proud heritage and that was rightly recognised in 2014 when she became part of the heritage fleet of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, alongside HMS Victory and HMS Caroline. She is also included in the Core Collection of the National Register of Historic Vessels and is maintained by the HMS Trincomalee Trust, a registered charity.
Our media tour took in the adjacent Hartlepool Maritime Experience before heading on to the ship for a fascinating walk through history. Guide Richard Davison, dressed in period costume as a Captain in the Royal Navy, walked us through the fascinating history of the ship. Richard also provided us with an excellent commentary of words and phrases from the time that have made their way into common usage. Phrases such as ‘square meal’ and ‘toe the line’ originated at sea in the eighteenth century. Richard guided us to the gun deck, which comes complete with cannons. The mess desk is fitted out as it would have been; even down to the recreated grub infested gruel-like meals. Hammocks line the mess desk while visitors can also visit the more commodious officers’ and captain’s quarters.
The majestic ship was built in Bombay, India, in 1817 for the Royal Navy shortly after the Napoleonic Wars at a cost of £23,000. Named after the 1782 Battle of Trincomalee, she was fitted with temporary masts and rigging, and before stopping to pick up guns and ammunition on the way to Britain, she arrived in Portsmouth in 1819. During her first commission, the 1,447-ton ship provided hurricane relief in Bermuda in 1847, as well as preventing an invasion of Cuba.After returning to Britain and being refitted, she headed for Vancouver in 1852 under the command of Captain Wallace Houstoun.From there she patrolled the west coast of North America and the Pacific Ocean.
HMS Trincomalee’s story over the next few decades involved being a training vessel in various ports in Britain, including Sunderland, Hartlepool and Southampton. Then in private hands as a sail training vessel, she was renamed TS Foudroyant in 1903 in honour of an earlier ship that was wrecked. The ship remained in sail training service until 1986 - including a short period when she was re-commissioned as a storage and training vessel in the Second World War - and reverted to her original name, HMS Trincomalee, whilst undergoing restoration, in 1992. HMS Trincomalee spent much of the twentieth century in Gosport, Hampshire before being brought up to Hartlepool in 1987 by a heavy-lift barge for restoration. It took over a decade of painstaking work to restore the ship to her former glory.
Following the tour of the ship, the braver members of our party climbed the ship’s mast, albeit fitted out with twenty first century safety rigging. Appetites awakened, we enjoyed beef almond and jam roly poly; prepared from recipes taken from the era. Next was a spectacular cannon and musket display on the quayside. Finally, a visit to the Heugh Battery Museum, which commemorates the Headland’s Bombardment in WW1 by the Imperial German Army, provided another taste of what the town had to offer historically. Sadly, one of the Battery’s soldiers, Theo Jones of the Durham Light Infantry, was the first British soldier to be killed by enemy action on home ground in the war.
HMS Trincomalee offers a wonderful journey through a bygone era of heroism and hardship on the high seas. She provides a first class day out for all members of the family. As if to prove this, one member of the media brought along his five-year old daughter who also enjoyed her historic visit together with fun face painting.
HMS Trincomalee is berthed at Jackson Dock within Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience (Maritime Avenue, Hartlepool, TS24 0XZ.) For tickets, contact HMS Trincomalee on 01429 223 193 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit: www.hms-trincomalee.co.uk.
PHOTO CAPTION: HMS Trincomalee.