You wouldn’t really expect to find a beautifully restored Royal Navy frigate from the 1800’s outside of one of the historic naval dockyards, but Hartlepool is home to a superbly restored example – HMS Trincomalee.
Conceived in 1812, she was built in India because Great Britain had effectively run out of the traditional materials with which to build ships – oak.
Due to various delays the ship made its maiden voyage to England and arrived in 1819, almost immediately being declared surplus to requirements because France had been defeated. Placed in to reserve it would be another twenty six years before she would see active service.
A second period in reserve and a second commissioning later she was placed in to reserve a third time in 1857. Use by the Royal Navy continued in various training roles she was finally decommissioned in 1897.
She was sold for scrap, but the sinking of a private youth training ship off Blackpool saw the owner begin a search for a replacement – the Trincomalee fitted the bill perfectly. By 1903, repaired, repainted and fitted out Trincomalee sailed again, but this time as the Foudroyant (the same name as used by the vessel it replaced).
A further period of Royal Navy service saw the Trincomalee form HMS Foudroyant with the Implacable. Following the cessation of hostilities Implacable was deemed unsafe and scuttled, whilst Trincomalee continued as a training vessel under the guise of Foudroyant until 1986 when regulation changes and falling numbers of youths interested in such activities conspired to make the ship redundant.
However, as the second oldest ship afloat she was deemed worthy of saving and restoration. In 1992 the ship was officially renamed HMS Trincomalee and in 2001 she took pride of place as the Hartlepool Maritime Experience.
Having visited the ship today the restoration has been hugely successful. The experience been further enhanced by a dockside vista consisting of a number of period buildings that house exhibitions of everyday life in a British sea port. Our visit lasted a really good three hours.
The on-site food emporium was pretty good too, delivering good down-to-earth food without the usual rip-off prices that such venues think is acceptable to charge.