Built at Pembroke Dockyard in 1824 as an 84 gun ship of the formidable class. She proved to be a fast ship with a long service record. While based at Gibraltar then Malta in 1849, she took part in the siege of Genoa . With the outbreak of the Crimean War she was stationed at the Dardanelles, before proceeding to the Bosphorus. Then in 1854 she took part in the Bombardment of Odessa. The ship then assisted in transporting troops across the Black Sea, in preparation for the Battle of Alma. After her eventful service career, in 1861 she became a receiving ship at Plymouth. In 1897 she was sold out of service to be broken up
The figurehead was presented to the Upper Thames Yacht Club at Marlow on Thames in 1925, where it remained on show until 1993. By which time the figure had rotted beyond repair and also suffered from vandalism.
In the same year I was commissioned to carve a replica based on the remaining fragments of the original, and archive photographs supplied by the figurehead historian Richard Hunter. To have this figure in my workshop was to come face to face with a piece of history. Removing layers of paint from its battle scared face, to reveal the fine carving beneath. One could imagine the stories it could tell if blessed with the power of speech.
The figurehead was carved by the famous Dickerson family, and was an outstanding example of their work. In attempting to replicate it, I have endeavored to capture the strength of character that manifests in their work. The figure once again stands on the yacht club lawn looking out across the Thames.
The figure had for years, thought to be a representation of Neptune. But the maritime historian David Pulvertaft, recently discovered the original drawings in the archives of the Dickerson family. It was clear from these, that it was a depiction of Zeus.
Please feel free to contact me for further information on the restoration or conservation of figureheads