Hartlepool kids all at sea on HMS Trincomalee

RINGING TRUE: Stranton Primary pupils aboard HMS Trincomalee
RINGING TRUE: Stranton Primary pupils aboard HMS Trincomalee

YOUNGSTERS from Stranton Primary School have been ringing the changes during an interactive session on board HMS Trincomalee.

A group of pupils learned the importance of the ship’s bell or ‘clock’ which would structure its crew’s daily routine.

This month, Trincomalee’s clock has gained a modern companion bell with the introduction of an electronic version, which will augment the sound of the 1896 original.

The importance of the ship’s bell was crucial to its effective running and functionality.

When the ship was at sea, its crew would be divided into “watches” which rotated being on duty or “on watch” in shifts usually four hours long.

Before the development of mechanical clocks, the passage of each four-hour watch aboard ship was marked with an hourglass which ran 30 minutes.

Each half hour, when the glass was turned over, the ship’s bell was struck. Over time, a traditional pattern of striking the bell in couplets, or pairs of strikes, developed which added a strike each half hour.

As mechanical clocks were developed, this bell pattern was transferred into ship’s bell clocks.

HMS Trincomalee general manager David McKnight said: “The pupils really enjoyed their sessions, which was both educational and fun.

“They gained insights into what life was like aboard a ship like HMS Trincomalee and the importance of careful routine, which was moderated by the ship’s clock.

“We regularly host sessions such as these with local schools and they always to be extremely popular.”

Headteacher Neil Nottingham added: “The children really enjoyed the experience.

“It was a fun and fascinating activity from which they learned a great deal about the history of the HMS Trincomalee.

“They couldn’t wait to tell their classmates about their experience when they returned to school.”