It is three decades since the pride of Hartlepoool sailed to the town.
Today marks the 30th anniversary of the return of the HMS Trincomalee, now the mainstay of the town’s Historic Quay and its National Museum of the Royal Navy.
Looking at her now, it is hard to remember just how sorry a state she was in when she returned to her homeport to be restored by a painstaking team of experts.
Then known as TS Foudroyant (the name she had been given after being decommissioned from naval service in 1897), she had been used as a training ship before the decision was taken to restore her.
Before she could be moved, a number of surveys had to be carried out and these deemed the hull unsafe for towing. The ship would have to be placed on a floating barge called the Goliath Pacific and brought up to the River Tees.
She arrived in the Tees on July 29, 1987, after which she was taken off the barge and towed to Hartlepool, to be restored and conserved by the same team that had previously restored HMS Warrior.
It took several years for the restoration to actually start as funds had to be raised and it had to be decided where she would go afterwards.
It was finally agreed she would remain in Hartlepool and restoration began in 1990, with initial funding from the Teesside Development Corporation and Hartlepool Borough Council, later followed by Heritage Lottery Funding. It was completed in 2001.
Hartlepool borough council leader Coun Christopher Akers-Belcher paid tribute to the dedicated team of experts who had restored her, saying: “I am hugely proud that a team of local people restored HMS Trincomalee here in Hartlepool and that the oldest warship afloat in Europe is now proudly on display in our town. HMS Trincomalee is now at the centre of the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Hartlepool which is helping to establish the town as a key tourist destination. HMS Trincomalee is something special and is enjoyed by people young and old and I am confident she will continue to be enjoyed by many generations to come.”
Hartlepool MP Mike Hill is delighted the ‘Trinc’ is here: “The Trincomalee is such an important asset for the town, now only in terms of tourism, but a sense of pride in our ship-building history,” he said,
“I am proud as MP to have such a marvellous piece of Britain’s navel heritage in our town.”