HMS Victory: Owners’ Workshop Manual

Peter Goodwin, MPhil, IEng, MIMarEst

Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney


          This relatively slender volume is billed as “an insight into owning, operating and maintaining the Royal Navy’s oldest and most famous warship.”  It is a must have for anyone with an interest in tall ships, the age of sail, the great sailing navies, and in particular the Royal Navy and Lord Nelson.

          Through the pages, we learn of the previous Royal Navy ships bearing the name Victory.  We come to understand the reasoning behind its design and construction and to know in fairly great detail, the events of its active duty career.  Readers are taken on a detailed tour of the entire vessel as we examine it from keel to main topgallant mast truck.  The author also delves into the problems and resultant solutions required to keep a near two hundred and fifty year old ship in serviceable condition.

          As informative and impressive as this book is, it is not without some problems.  It seems to have been rather hurriedly written.  Many topics are lightly touched upon, and sometimes appear to end arbitrarily. Drawings and diagrams give one a start at understanding the complexity of an Eighteenth Century warship, but fail to follow through.  More illustrations, demonstrating and defining those things mentioned in the text would be greatly appreciated.  At one point the 98 gun Impregnable is referred to as a first-rate, when in fact it would have been classed as a second-rate.  There are also problems with some of the tables for the characteristics of Victory’s guns.  It appears that data for one type of gun was recopied and placed in the listings for another.

          Nonetheless, this book is a great addition to the collection of anyone interested or fanatical about the age of sail.  It definitely adds to, rather than subtracting from the field of knowledge available to those with such interests.

          From Haynes Publishing in the United Kingdom, ISBN 978-0-85733-085-7 carries a cover price of £21.99 or $35.95.