HMS Trincomalee: Onboard Britain's oldest floating warship

Kris Jepson went onboard HMS Trincomalee to find out more about its rich history for ITVX

At more than 200 years old, she's Britain's oldest floating warship.

HMS Trincomalee has travelled more than 100,000 miles around the world but has now found a home in Hartlepool as a museum.

Built in Mumbai, India in 1817 and named after the 1782 Battle of Trincomalee - she has never actually seen combat.

"She's managed to survive that long because she was built entirely from teak," said Clare Hunt, principal curator at the National Museum of the Royal Navy. "It's a really superior timber for building ships from.

"In this country we were building ships from oak which just doesn't survive like teak does. That's really the reason she survives the way she does."

During her active service, the ship undertook duties including policing, protection, and exploration.

Though HMS Victory is 52 years older, HMS Trincomalee claims the title of Britain's oldest floating warship as the Victory is in a dry dock.

People can now board HMS Trincomalee to find out more about her rich history. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The ship has been in Hartlepool since 1987, when she arrived for restoration. People can now go onboard to discover her history, from the hammocks where up to 240 crew mates would have slept, to the ship biscuits baked to a traditional recipe.

"One third salt, two thirds flour - baked for a long long time so it's really really hard," said volunteer Stuart Burk, who has been a guide for 30 years.

"It's the old-fashioned recipe so they'll last a long time. They're durable but they're not that nice.

"Things like ship biscuits you would have to soak them in beer overnight to make them soft enough to eat."

He added: "People suffered from infections quite a lot. A lot of people, even younger people didn't have that many teeth."

Bringing details like this to life is just one of the reasons he loves to show people around HMS Trincomalee.

"The kids get really excited because it looks like ships in films because it is," he added.

"She is a real ship. You're walking on real decks. When you think about how many people were on the ship, how crowded it would have been."

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