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British Two-decker 70 Gun Warship, “Edinburgh”

British Two-decker 70 Gun Warship, “Edinburgh”, 1721
Georgian Model, scale 1:48
Great Britain
model: 45.0 x 106.0 x 27.0 cm
The Thomson Collection © Art Gallery of Ontario

The Thomson Collection of Ship Models Audio Tour

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Download: 2:34 min / 1,008 KB MP3

Introduction by David Wistow

David Wistow: Welcome to the Thomson collection of over 130 historic ship models, much admired for their craftsmanship, rarity and historical value. Simon Stephens, Curator at the National Maritime Museum in London, England will be your guide through the world of British ship models – from battleships and tugboats to ocean liners and tankers – spanning 350 years.

Simon Stephens: What we have here in front of us is a Georgian style model of the Edinburgh, which is a two-decker, 70 gun warship, built largely in fruitwood. And as you can see, it is heavily decorated, both in terms of the stern decoration, the lion figurehead at the bow, as well as the layout of the guns along the two gun decks.

You’ll notice that some of the deck planking is omitted. And this is to throw light into the model, so that you can see detail within the model, in terms of the cabin layout, the bulkheads, and the layout of the guns and the officer accommodation at the stern.

Now, moving on up to the front, or the bow, of the ship, there’s a beautiful carved ship’s figurehead in the form of the lion, with a crown.

Now, the whole idea of this model and the figurehead adjacent ... full size figurehead adjacent by the case is to give you some idea of the scale. The figurehead is a full sized figurehead from an actual vessel. It's 48 times larger than the figurehead on the model.

These models were made at 1:48 scale, a quarter inch to a foot.

I suppose in a way when you look at why the models were made, that's what makes them important. The reason three-dimensional ship models were made was a group of individuals at the Admiralty and the Navy Board, and they were the people, the executive body responsible for running the Navy. They made all the decisions on behalf on the monarchs and the Parliament.

Not all of them could understand a two-dimensional complex technical drawing. So, to assist their discussions and interpretation, they had models commissioned and made.

So that’s where these models really come into their own. They are an invaluable source of reference for construction, design, decoration and general tactics, as well. They would use these to talk sailing qualities, you know, the lines of the hull.

Now as to the types and the quality of model, it varies, because some of the really more ornate and well finished and beautifully detailed, rigged, they were probably commissioned after the ship was built for private use, for a private individual, wealthy individual who had connections with the Navy.

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