Reply To: Hammock Boards on Victory 1805

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Gary Morgan

    I tried to post this yesterday, but it didn’t take for some reason, so here goes again.

    I understand that the hammock crane boarding was made from lightweight deal (pine), probably 2” / 3” in thickness, and fastened to the outer stanchions of the hammock cranes, and that they were renewed at least twice during the campaign of Trafalgar (unless the Lavery note below is of the same date as Goodwin).

    So, if this is not the same instance as quoted by Goodwin, then there is a further ‘Trafalgar contemporary’ source quoted by Brian Lavery in his ‘Nelson’s Victory; 250 Years of War and Peace’ – notes on page 28, that following the Caribbean chase of 1805 he quotes Midshipman Rivers as recording that the carpenter “Bunce and his crew were hard at work on various jobs such as making new hammock boards for the old decayed ones on the poop”.

    We also have 2 visual records, firstly, although produced somewhat belatedly, is from FJ Roskruge R.N. who published an article in The Mariner’s Mirror of 1921 entitled ‘The “Victory” After Trafalgar’, in this article he recounts how by “the courtesy of Commander W.F. Carslake, I have been able to make the accompanying pen and ink drawing of H.M.S. Victory, from a water colour painting in his possession”, the original painting had been made some 25 years after Trafalgar for Commander Carslake whose grandfather John Carslake was a mate in the Victory at Trafalgar. The boarding is clearly visible (see attachment below), although the hances are contemporary with the date of the painting.

    We also have the Constable sketches of 1803, the stern 3 quarter view which also clearly shows boarded over hammock cranes, pierced for 2 ports (see attachment, taken from I would imagine as the Poop wasn’t armed that these gun port openings were not formed or ‘let into’ the subsequent replacement boards.

    There is also a third source from JMW Turner, who after Trafalgar went on board off Sheerness in late December 1805, and painted his fist work, the watercolour ‘The ‘Victory’: From Quarterdeck to Poop’ (Tate Ref. D08275), he shows the Poop hammock cranes covered in a canvas envelope, this seems to sit over the boards, and would explain why the boards on contemporary paintings are not always visible. Interestingly, you can see part of the hammock cranes on the starboard side just forward of the Sauve Tête stanchion if you zoom in. Picture attached.


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