Captain’s log in voyage home

David Mc Knight pictured with the Trincomalee Watch Bill.
David Mc Knight pictured with the Trincomalee Watch Bill.

A FASCINATING piece of maritime history dating back more than 160 years has been returned home after being discovered in a dusty suitcase north of the border.

A Captain’s Log, also known as a Watch Bill, has been handed back to workers at the HMS Trincomalee and Museum.

The Watch Bill dates back to when the ship was commisioned in the West Indies, and charts a three-year voyage which started in Portsmouth in 1847.

Amazingly, the captain of the ship at the time - Capt Richard Laid Warren - is a direct ancestor of the HMS Trincomalee Trust’s vice president, Commander Richard Warren.

The book was returned to maritime bosses at the HMS Trincomalee Trust by an elderly lady from Scotland, and it is thought her late husband was given the documents as a gift after joining the Navy.

The woman, who does not want any publicity for her gesture, believes the Watch Bill has been lying in a suitcase at her home since the 1960s.

David McKnight, general manager of the HMS Trincomalee Trust, said: “It was written by the Captain at the time, in this case it was Capt Richard Laid Warren, who speaks of the crew members, their roles and daily routines.

“The most unbelievable find is that the document is illustrated with numerous drawings of the ship, which is quite remarkable.”

HMS Trincomalee was built shortly after the Napoleonic Wars in Bombay, India, and now resides as a museum ship in Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience.

The historic document is still in very good condition despite its age.

“The condition of the document is quite outstanding as you can still make out what is written,” added David.

“However the spine of the book is deteriorating and we don’t really want to handle it an awful lot as we could accidently damage it.

“I speak on behalf of everyone here at HMS Trincomalee when I say that we are absolutely thrilled that this extraordinary piece of naval history has come back to where it belongs.”

Captain Richard Laid Warren’s Watch Bill is yet to be exhibited, as it is still to be photographed for transcription, but is to go on show in the ship museum in the coming months.