Figurehead from Hartlepool's iconic HMS Trincomalee to be restored and put on display
A turbaned man figurehead from HMS Trincomalee in Hartlepool is set to be restored and put on public display after more than £50,000 was raised.
The 175-year-old ship’s head has been in storage at the National Museum of the Royal Navy since the ship came to town to be restored in 1987.
It is believed to depict a native Sri Lankan man where Trincomalee is a port. A replica is currently attached to the ship which forms the centrepiece of the navy museum.
Next week, the 1845 figurehead will be brought out of storage and transported to London to be professionally restored.
It comes after The Friends of HMS Trincomalee charity run by volunteers have pledged £25,500 and the national charity Art Fund has awarded the project £30,000.
The figurehead was carved by Hellyer & Son, the best known carver of Portsmouth Dockyard, in 1845 and put in storage in 1987 until sufficient funds could be raised for its professional restoration.
Between now and June it will be restored off site before being mounted on the wall in the HMS Trincomalee exhibition space, complete with new graphics, information and lighting.
Clare Hunt, curator at The National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool, said: “We are delighted to be able to get this object, which is so significant to the history of HMS Trincomalee, restored and on display.”
HMS Trincomalee is the oldest warship still afloat in Europe and was built of teak in India for the Royal Navy in 1817.
Ships heads were often believed to be the ‘soul’ of a ship, offering good luck and protection.
It is believed HMS Trincomalee’s original figurehead succumbed to the weather.
Roslyn Adamson, general manager at the museum said: “Having invested over £0.5 million over the last three years in works to protect the ship itself, it’s great to begin to turn our attention towards new interpretation and sharing previously unseen aspects of HMS Trincomalee’s history.”
Dr Hugh Turner, chair of the Friends of HMS Trincomalee added: “It will make a visual impact, not only for the Friends visiting, but for other visitors of all ages to the site.”