Fighting ship's identity revealed in Chatham Dockyard

The remains of an 18th century ship are identified through detective work on her timbers in Chatham.

The identity of 167 timbers used to support a floor at Chatham Historic Dockyard have been revealed as coming from an 18th century fighting ship.

A quarter of the frame of HMS Namur, which was built in 1756, had lain hidden beneath the Wheelwright's Shop in the dockyard for hundreds of years.

The timbers, some of which were die-stamped with the shipwrights' initials, were first discovered in 1995.

But naval archaeologists have only just been able to firmly link them to Namur.

The link was confirmed when they dated the timber and investigated the shipwrights' and carpenters' marks.

The ship, which served through to the aftermath of Trafalgar, saw 47 years of service before being brought back to the dockyard and recycled under the floor.

The Battle of Trafalgar

A painting of HMS Namur

On 21 October 1805, the Royal Navy clashed with the French and Spanish fleet at Cape Trafalgar, off the coast of Spain - a battle with massive repercussions for the future of the British Empire.

Richard Holdsworth, from Chatham Historic Dockyard, said the ship came to her foremost during the Seven Years War between 1756 and 1763.

"This is the period when the Royal Navy seized command of the world's oceans and set the scene for Britain's global position afterwards," he said.

The ship served against the French over Quebec and against the Spanish in the Caribbean.

"It's a very important find, not just the structure of the ship, but her associations with wonderful people.

"She embodies Chatham-built ships in the age of sail and she'll be the centrepiece of our new galleries."

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