Appeal to trace HMS Trincomalee's missing history

TRINC Boys receiving rigging pre instruction Image copyright Teesside University library archives
Image caption Dr Ben Roberts wants to trace trainees from across the country who spent time on the vessel

A missing piece in the history of the world's oldest afloat warship is the subject of a new appeal.

HMS Trincomalee - built in India in 1817 - is berthed at Hartlepool's Maritime Experience where it has been a tourist attraction for nearly 30 years.

A historian from Teesside University now wants to uncover a missing part of the warship's past when it operated as the training ship, Foudroyant.

It is hoped people's stories and memories will "bring its past to life".

Image copyright Teesside University library archives
Image caption Teesside University library archives have a collection of Trincomalee photos but where they originated from is unknown

Industrialist Geoffrey Wheatley Cobb bought Trincomalee in 1897 and converted it for training use.

She was renamed Foudroyant in tribute to his own ship which had been wrecked in a storm off Blackpool that same year.

Academic Dr Ben Roberts has uncovered the ships' factual history but now hopes to trace trainees who were sent from across the country to spend time on the vessel between the early 1900s and the mid-1980s.

Image copyright HMS Trincomalee
Image caption The vessel will celebrate her bicentenary in 2017

He said: "While we know much about the ship's early days and also its restoration, we know little about the people who spent time as trainees on her during the 90-year period when she was known as TS Foudroyant.

"We have information from ships' logs and other archival details, but I now need people to tell their stories to bring the information from the archives to life.

"Their stories will provide a missing piece of the ship's history. There are many photographs from that time too, but no names to go with them."

Image copyright Teesside University library archives
Image caption It is hoped people will come forward with personal memories, or stories passed down from relatives of those who spent time on TS Foudroyant

The vessel spent its time in Falmouth, Milford Haven and Portsmouth, remaining in service until 1986.

The ship was brought to Hartlepool in 1987, where it took more than 10 years to restore. It reverted to the original Trincomalee name in 1992.

The research is being carried out in conjunction with the HMS Trincomalee Trust.

Image copyright Teesside University library archives
Image caption HMS Trincomalee was built for the Admiralty in Bombay and served in the West Indies and the Pacific

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