Warship Figureheads from the Royal Dockyards: towards a National Collection?

By David Pulvertaft, published February 2009


This article re-examined accounts by Douglas Owen of the figurehead collections in the royal dockyards of Chatham, Sheerness, Portsmouth and Devonport in 1913 and 1914. Pulvertaft analyses and evaluates the objectives of Douglas Owen by focusing on the principal external influences on Owen’s findings (namely the opening of the National Maritime Museum in 1937 and the closure of dockyards in Sheerness and Chatham in 1960 and 1984 respectively). The conclusion is that wavering public interest towards warship figureheads has eminently contributed to the deterioration and fragmentation of these relics since 1913-14. Ultimately Pulvertaft theorises that the transfer of the surviving figureheads to the National Museum of Royal Navy and Ministry of Defence art museum should develop and rekindle public intrigue towards the figureheads and therefore facilitate conservation of these relics for the future.

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Filed under: Other (Twentieth C) | Other (location)
Subjects include: Historic Vessels, Museums & Restoration | Ship Models & Figureheads

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