HMS Venerable


One of our long-running projects is the tenth-scale model of HMS Venerable.

The original Venerable was a 74-gun (3rd Rate) ship of the Line, built at Blackwall, on the Thames in 1784.   She was eventually sunk off the South Devon coast, near Torbay in 1804.

So why is she being remembered by Sunderland Maritime heritage? What is her connection with Sunderland?

In 1797 there was a significant sea battle between English and Dutch fleets off the Dutch coast at a place we know as Camperdown. Details of the Battle can be found HERE , but the connection with Sunderland is that one of our local lads – Jack Crawford – was part of the crew at the time.
Jack had been born in the East End of Sunderland, within a few hundred yards of our present base. In 1796 he was press-ganged into service aboard HMS Venerable, which became Admiral Duncan’s flagship at the Battle of Camperdown.

In the early stages of the battle most of Venerable’s mizzenmast was shot away, taking the Admiral’s flag with it.  This was a significant event – in those days, with no radio, all communication between ships was by flag signals – and taking your flag down was an act of surrender. Taking the Admiral’s flag down meant the whole fleet had surrendered! Jack Crawford was handed a spare flag and a few nails and sent up what remained of the mast, where in spite of being injured, he nailed the flag to the mast . . . and that is where the saying “Nail your colours to the mast” comes from!
Our model is one-tenth scale, as accurate as we can make it – and we are working from Admiralty official plans.  It has been many years in the making, and is built largely from oak, as was the original. Some mahogany and other woods are also used.
The model sits on a trailer, and can be taken to fairs and special events, usually for fund-raising purposes, and can act as the backdrop for a short educational pageant.

Our eventual aim is to fix the masts in place, and install full rigging and signal flags.

For a short video explaining more about her, go HERE

Naturally, a project like this is expensive – so we are running a copper-bottomed fundraising campaign. Get your name engraved on a small copper plaque and have it fixed to the hull.
Details HERE.

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