Full sail ahead as Hartlepool ship set to tell story of first female passenger

From left Helen Loynes, Paul Sutermeister and Peter Olsen, Deputy Chair of the HMS Trincomalee Trust. Picture Keith Taylor
From left Helen Loynes, Paul Sutermeister and Peter Olsen, Deputy Chair of the HMS Trincomalee Trust. Picture Keith Taylor

Public support has ensured a new display about HMS Trincomalee’s first female passenger will be launched as part of the ship’s 200th anniversary celebrations.

The National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool, where HMS Trincomalee is berthed, organised a crowdfunding campaign for a new on board exhibition about Eliza Blunt.

She was the first woman to sail on the ship from Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon, to Portsmouth in 1818-1819 after her husband died and the Royal Navy brought her home.

She recorded her journey while on board and the display will include items recorded in her diary.

The fundraising appeal for HMS Trincomalee Trust, responsible for the ship’s conservation, exceeded its £500 target. Helen Loynes, fundraising manager for the Trust, said: “This is fantastic news for HMS Trincomalee and the National Museum of the Royal Navy.

“The display will be a welcome addition to the ship and is another boost to Hartlepool’s leisure economy.”

HMS Trincomalee is the world’s oldest warship still afloat. Museum curator Clare Hunt said: “Eliza Bunt was an inspirational woman and the display will offer people a real insight into life on board a naval ship in the 1800s, and is a fitting tribute to the centenary of the Women’s Royal Navy Service.”

Commodore Paul Sutermeister, chairman of the Bicentenary Appeal Committee, added: “The Trust’s bicentenary fundraising campaign has enjoyed a successful start, in what is a significant year in HMS Trincomalee’s well-decorated history, and it is vital that she is preserved for future generations.”