A collection of blogs and musings from the people that work at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum - Florida's Finest Lightstation.

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The Story of the Ship Behind the Model

Posted by: Sue Callaham, Ship Modeler in LAMPosts, Ship Model Journal

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HMS Victory at Portsmouth Dockyard in England

HMS Victory remains as majestic today as she was on launch day, May 7th, 1765. This ship and her mother country will celebrate the ship's 250th birthday in 2015. The Eighteenth Century: Still Alive in England ...

Located at Portsmouth Dockyard, the Victory is the oldest commissioned warship in the world! Our own USS Constitution is the second oldest commissioned warship, but the oldest one still afloat. The Victory has a long colorful history.

She is most well-known for her accomplishments during the Napoleonic Wars at the Battle of Trafalgar on October 21, 1805. At that campaign, the Victory was the flagship for Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson. HMS Victory, along with 26 other British ships, commenced a ferocious battle with 33 French ships off the coast of Cape Trafalgar. On that date, at about 1:15pm, when the fighting was at its fiercest, Nelson was shot by a French marksman and taken below where he died at 4:30pm. Despite this devastating event, the battle was won and the ships headed home.

This is only one of many battles involving the Victory. Others include battles during the American Revolutionary War, the Napoleonic Wars of the early 1800's, and several other skirmishes. In later years, the Victory was used as a hospital ship and a Naval School of Telegraphy, eventually becoming a proper Signal School for many years.

By 1921, HMS Victory was in extremely poor condition and a campaign was begun to save the ship. On January 12, 1922, she was moved into No. 2 dock at Portsmouth, the oldest dry dock in the world still in use. The Victory could no longer safely remain afloat. Restoration was begun.

During World War II, the restoration work was suspended. In 1941, Victory was damaged when a bomb, dropped by the Luftwaffe, destroyed a portion of the steel dry dock cradle and part of the foremast. The restoration which had begun years prior to this bombing wasn't completed until 2005.

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A salute for a majestic ship.

HMS Victory currently lives at Dock #2 (renamed Victory Dock) in Portsmouth, England. Since October of 2012, she has been the flagship for the First Sea Lord, who is the professional head of the Royal Navy and the whole Naval Service. Prior to that time, she was the flagship of the Second Sea Lord, the Chief of Naval Personnel & Training. The Victory is open to the public on a regular schedule.

You can read more of this amazing ship by going to the the ship's website: HMS-Victory.com.

HMS Victory has a significant history and is a British National Treasure. The model is also a sentimentally important ship to its original owners, the late Jim McNally and his beautiful wife, Katharine Merk McNally (our friend, Katie). As we work on the model, we keep those two facts in mind. We strive to honor both by making this model as historically accurate as is possible given its size as a model.

Again, we invite you to follow along as we document our progress with the photos we have taken and will continue to take until such time as the model is complete and encased. In our next blog, we will provide a link to the multitude of photographs already taken, far too many to post here! Additionally, soon we will be posting more information about the Rebecca, a St. Augustine ship of times past.

We hope you find an opportunity to visit us at the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum. You can find the Victory and many other models in the Gallery in the top floor of the Keepers' House. Most afternoons during the week, you will find modelers working. We welcome your questions while you are visiting!