at Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard

On the 5th October 2005 over 80 members of U3As from the region [18 U3As] gathered in the Princess Royal Gallery to hear and see two talks given by members of the museum staff. This was organised by Phyllis Babb of Sarum U3A. We thank very much for a most interesting morning.

1. "Caricatures 1795 to 1815". This was illuminating and amusing too. We were shown how these caricatures changed from previous times where symbols to represent countries such as the Lion for Britain and the Cockerel for France to exaggerated caricatures of politicians and statesmen were brought to the fore. These were the tabloids of the eighteenth century. It was explained that by posting them up in shop windows these cartoons were widely seen, at least by the literate. They became very satirical cartoons and they take some time and thought to unravel today. An example can be seen below. Just click here.

2. "Panorama of the Battle of Trafalgar" by W. L. Wyllie. This enormous painting [42 feet by 12 foot high] was done in 1928 and housed in a special building opposite the Victory. This was opened by the King. Because of neglect and leaks the painting became close to being lost. Three attempts have been made now to restore the work. We hope that it is now stable. There are many web sites about Wyllie and his work and life such as w l wyllie or try here for a larger biography.
'W L Wyllie Painting at Sea' .
A rare and sensitive watercolour of W L Wyllie

w l wyllie

This portrait was painted by his daughter Aileen in 1930 after the completion of the 'Panorama of the Battle of Trafalgar' and is significant in that it shows him shortly before his death the following year. This is believed to be the only watercolour portrait of the artist. Image size 380 x 280mm.

Julian Thomas tried to show us a pre production DVD about the restorations which were were partly successful. We were able to help him by pointing out a few deficiencies in the production at present. Later it will be for sale and one person publicly put her name down for a copy.

After these talks we were then able to wander around the museums that included a visit to the Panorama. This was very dramatic and there are a whole sequence of pictures to show you how life was like below decks during the battle that we experienced prior to seeing the actual painting. It is very well done indeed.

As was the temporary exhibition of the Victory's top foremast sail. The accompanying film was incredibly dramatic. So much so there were dire warnings to parents of small children. The sail was restored at least in part in Salisbury at the Carpet Restoration workshops. The sail itself is huge. Covering an area of 3,618 ft, it was the second largest sail on board HMS Victory and would have been one of the main targets for French and Spanish guns as HMS Victory approached the enemy line.

It is battle-scarred and pock-marked by some 90 shot holes, although a few squares were cut out by 19th century souvenir hunters. It also has huge historical importance as a hand-manufactured object from the time.

Measuring 80ft at its base, 54ft at its head and 54ft deep and weighing an estimated 370kg, it would have taken around 1,200 man hours for experienced sail makers to stitch. The sail was manufactured in the sail loft at Chatham in 1803. It remained on HMS Victory until the ship returned for repairs after the Battle of Trafalgar in 1806, then was taken to the sail loft in Chatham.




See also the Press Report of Salisbury U3A for December 2004