Reply To: HMS Victory repainted in grey and salmon pink

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Malcolm Lewis

In Peter Goodwin’s article regarding “The application and scheme of paintworks of the British Men of War in the 18th century” he refers to the book ‘The Ship of the Line – a history in ship models – 2014’ by Brian Lavery. I obtained a copy from my local library and so enjoyed the contents with its wonderful reproductions of beautiful ship models, mainly from the NMM collection, that I had to have a copy of my own. It is a most useful history of ship design and the purpose of models in ship construction. Seemingly what we know as “Board Models” were not used by shipwrights but were probably made as gifts
to influence members of the Establishment and encourage their support for the Royal Navy, such as Samuel Pepys. More likely the practical workaday “Block Models” were produced quickly in the ship yards from designer’s draughts. They were of “Bread and Butter” construction where the shape is formed horizontally rather than vertically as in Navy Board models. The block models were sent to the Navy Board office for approval but even these fell out of use by the mid-18th century as the drawn plans of ships became more accurate and trusted by the dockyards plus the need for urgency to meet the pressing demands of the Navy for building more ships.
As the Board Models were more for display and decoration Lavery says “If we discount the theory that they were made for consideration of the design, we are left with the conclusion they were purely decorative. Indeed, it is necessary to consider they were made for the Navy Board at all”” The colours of their paintwork are probably no indication of those used in actual service. Certainly the fine Board Models took a great deal of time to produce. The model of the fourth Victory L.1737 took four years to make. She foundered in a gale in 1744 with the loss of eleven hundred men – probably due to poor design.