HMS Victory - starboard bow
HMS Victory: Starboard bow Photo: Peter Milford

HMS Victory

Some facts and figures

On 13th December 1758, the Board of Admiralty in London, placed an order for the construction of 12 new line of battle warships, amongst them a 100 gun 'first rate'. The following year it was decided that this ship should be called Victory, although there had been considerable discussion over the name - the previous holders of the name having been largely unsuccessful. It is interesting to note that a certain Horatio Nelson was born in that same year, 1758, at Burnham Thorpe in Norfolk.

Keel laid
July 23rd 1759 - No 2 Dock, Chatham Dockyard

Designer: Sir Thomas Slade, Surveyor to the Navy

Cost: £63,176 (in today's terms some £20 million)

Overall length: 227 feetLength on gun deck: 186 feet
Length of keel: 151 feet 3 inchesHeight of masthead: 220 feet above sea level
Overall breadth: 51 feet 10 inchesMoulded breadth: 50 feet 6 inches
Draught: 21 feet 6 inchesSail area: 4 acres
Cordage used: 27 milesTimber used: 2,000 oak trees
2,000 oak trees required the felling of a forest of some 60 acres
Launched: May 7th 1765
(38 tons of iron ballast added to the port side to stabilise trim)

Immediately following her launch, Victory was placed in 'ordinary' (reserve) where she remained until the War of American Independence (1778) when she was completed and fitted out with full armament (104 guns). Victory was refitted after each year at sea before again being placed on the reserve list in 1783. Victory returned to the fleet in 1789 following a period in repair and became the flagship of Admiral Sir John Jervis in 1796. After the Battle of Cape St. Vincent, Victory was surveyed as 'defective' and taken out of service (paid off at Chatham), serving in the river Medway as a hospital ship. From 1800 to 1803 she underwent substantial rebuilding at Chatham Dockyard at a cost of £70,993 (the stern galleries were enclosed at this time).

Victory returned again to the fleet in 1803 and served as flagship to Nelson until Trafalgar (1805). After campaigning under the flag of Sir James Saumarez (captain, Orion at St Vincent), Victory was withdrawn from active service in 1812. She served as a floating depot ship in Portsmouth harbour until 1922 when, under pressure from the Society for Nautical Research, she was towed into the Dockyard and given a permanent home in the historic No. 2 dry dock where she remains.

Victory is currently nearing the end of a period of intensive restoration, intended to bring her as close as possible to her Trafalgar condition in time for the bicentennary in 2005.

HMS Victory - starboard quarter
HMS Victory: starboard quarter Photo: Peter Milford

Return to Victory tour

Updated: February 7th 1997