HQS Wellington and the Wellington Trust

A large ship painted white
Guided tours icon Library icon

Launched in 1934, the HQS Wellington is the last surviving member of the Royal Navy's Grimsby class of sloops. After 4 years of duty in the South Pacific, the ship served with distinction in the Second World War. As well evacuating troops from Le Havre during 'Operation Cycle' in 1940 and taking part in the Allied landings in North Africa in 1942, 'Operation Torch', the then HMS Wellington steamed some 240,000 miles on 103 convoy escort operations during the Battle of the Atlantic. Lasting from 1939 to 1945, this was the longest continuous campaign of the War. On convoy duty, the ship rescued more than 450 Merchant Navy seamen and shared the credit for sinking a U-boat.

The Wellington has been moored on the Thames since 1948 as the home of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners, a City of London Livery Company. A museum and library in addition, the ship is also a unique conference, wedding and dining venue. Tours of the library and museum are available on request and provided by highly knowledgeable Master Mariners.

HQS Wellington is on the National Historic Ships UK register.

Venue Type:

Ship or maritime heritage site, Library, Museum

Opening hours

Heritage Evening lectures take place monthly at 18:30 during September to March inclusive. Wardroom bar opens at 17:45.

Admission charges

Heritage Evening lecture donation is £5/person. Lecture is followed by optional supper: two courses + glass of wine for £32/person or £27 for a Friend of the Wellington Trust. Includes lecture donation in each case. Membership subscriptions of the Friends start at £50 pa.

Booking is required for both lecture and supper if taken. Please contact the Business Manager on (020) 7836 8179 or info@thewellingtontrust.com

For 'A Master Class with Ossie Jones: Marine Art Displayed' on 9th November, a buffet supper at 1830 will precede the master class: £32/person or £27 for a Friend of the Wellington Trust. Membership subscriptions of the Friends start at £50 pa. Booking for the combined master class and supper is required. Please contact the Business Manager on (020) 7836 8179 or info@thewellingtontrust.com

Getting there

Bus: use any of these services to the Strand for the Victoria Embankment:-
4 Archway station - Waterloo
6 Willesden (Bus Garage) - Aldwych
9 Heathrow Terminal 5 - Aldwych
11 Ealing Broadway - Liverpool Street station
13 North Finchley - Aldwych
15 Romford Market - Trafalgar Square
23 Westbourne Park - Liverpool Street station
26 Hackney Wick - Waterloo
76 Tottenham Hale - Waterloo (Baylis Road)
87 Kingston - Aldwych
172 Brockley Rise - St Paul's station
341 Angel Road Superstores - County Hall

Underground: Circle or District line to Temple station.

DLR: nearest station is Bank.

National Rail: Blackfriars, Charing Cross or Waterloo station

London River Services: Blackfriars or Embankment pier.

Historic charts, silver and gold, ship models, paintings and maritime artefacts.

Collection details

Maritime, Archives

Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
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Medals & Martyrs

  • 11 — 12 December 2016 *on now

By 1913, Britain had to import 80% of its wheat, 50% of its meat and 50% of its iron ore while the Royal Navy’s newest ships were fuelled by imported oil. That dependence upon the sea became the greater when Britain entered the First World War on 4th August 1914, coming under direct threat just two days later when 10 U-boats began the first submarine war patrols in history. On land, any illusion that the War would be short soon disappeared. The Imperial German Navy saw cutting Britain’s sea routes as the means to victory.

Such was the loss rate that by April 1917, one in four merchant ships leaving this country was being lost to enemy action, largely by submarines, forcing HM Government’s realisation that Britain would have to capitulate within six months. This finally compelled the Admiralty and ship owners to introduce the convoy system in May 1917, groups of merchant ships being escorted by Royal Navy and Allied warships. This changed the course of the War.

This decisive contribution of the Mercantile Marine being all too little recognised, the exhibition addresses that of some of its individual members. Captains Frederick Parslow and Archibald Smith were awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously, the only civilians in the First World War to receive Britain's highest military decoration. Ten former Mercantile Marine and Fishing Fleet members earned the VC during their RN/RNR/RNVR service in the War. As a result of making to ram a U-boat attempting to attack his unarmed North Sea ferry, Captain Charles Fryatt was captured and executed by a German firing squad in 1916 albeit a civilian non-combatant. In 1919, his body was repatriated, brought across the Channel by RN destroyer and taken by train to London in the same converted luggage van used previously for the coffin of nurse Edith Cavell and later for that of the Unknown Warrior. Hundreds of thousands lined the route from Charing Cross station to St Paul's for Captain Fryatt's funeral service.

Suitable for

  • Any age

Admission

Free of charge, opening hours being 1100 to 1700 with last entry at 1630. Tours of the ship are available during the Sunday opening hours, again free of charge.

Note that the exhibition is open only on Sundays and Mondays between 31st July and 12th December but will be closed on 27-28th November.

Website

http://www.thewellingtontrust.com/trust/news?pnum=1

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'Too shallow for the Navy'

  • 12 December 2016

This Heritage Evening lecture by John Johnson-Allen, MA FRHistS FRIN MIoS, is the Institute of Seamanship Annual Lecture for 2016.

Sub-titled 'Maritime Mesopotamia 1914-1918', it will cover a forgotten part of a remote campaign that was the first fought over oil. The attempts to resupply the 8,000 strong British-Indian garrison at Kut Al Amara in Iraq were a key episode. The third and final attempt in April 1916 used the SS Julnar, a river steamer shown above being loaded. It failed and resulted in Lt Humphrey Firman RN and Lt Cdr Charles Cowley RNVR being awarded the Victoria Cross. Kut's fall to the Ottoman Army has been described as the Allies' worst defeat in the First World War.

John Johnson-Allen is a maritime historian, author, lecturer and Chairman of the Institute of Seamanship as well as a contributor to previous Heritage Evening lecture series.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children

Admission

Attendance at the lecture only is £5/person

Wardroom bar opens at 17:45. Lecture begins at 1830 and is followed by optional supper: two courses + glass of wine for £32/person or £27 for a Friend of the Wellington Trust. Includes lecture donation in each case. Membership subscriptions of the Friends start at £50 pa.

Booking by the preceding Thursday is required for both lecture and, if taken, supper. Please contact the Business Manager on (020) 7836 8179 or info@thewellingtontrust.com

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Captain Bligh

  • 9 January 2017

William Bligh (1754-1817), the son of a customs officer, joined the Royal Navy in 1770. Six years a midshipman, he was promoted to sailing master of HMS Resolution and served under Captain James Cook on his third and final South Seas voyage of 1776–79.

On returning to England, Bligh entered commercial service as a commander of merchant ships in the West Indies. The Bounty voyage for which he is forever remembered was undertaken at the request of Caribbean plantation owners seeking a subsistence food for their slaves. Botanist Sir Joseph Banks recommended Tahitian breadfruit. An unenthusiastic Admiralty agreed to commission Bligh as the commander of the 215-ton Bethia refitted as HMS Bounty.

The Bounty set out for Tahiti in December 1787 but did not reach his destination until October 1788. Ensuring that the breadfruit cuttings would take meant staying five months on Tahiti.

On April 28, 1789, first mate Fletcher Christian and his supporters mutinied against Bligh's mode of command. Bligh and 18 loyal men were put into a 20' boat with five days’ supplies and some navigational instruments. A stop at a nearby island saw one of them killed by natives which resolved Bligh to sail directly for Timor, 3,600 miles away. A voyage of extreme hardship, brilliant navigation and mutual hatred, as the boat party blamed each other for the mutiny and their plight. Bligh and his men reached Timor on June 14, 1789. Continuing to Batavia (Jakarta) on Java, they found onward transport, finally reaching England in March 1790. HMS Bounty returned to Tahiti and left there several mutineers. Christian and eight others then sailed to Pitcairn Island, where the colony they founded went undiscovered until 1808 and where their descendants still reside.

Bligh went on to other commands; was Governor of New South Wales in 1805-1810 and was promoted to rear admiral in 1811 and vice admiral in 1814. He was commended at the Battle of Camperdown (1797) by Lord Nelson and performed well at the Battle of Copenhagen (1805). Credited with the discovery of 13 Pacific islands Bligh was elected to the Royal Society in 1801.

A Heritage Evening lecture by Richard Fitzwilliams, a PR Consultant, Royal commentator and film critic. His specific fields of expertise include the honours system, film award ceremonies, portraiture, etiquette and obituaries. Between 1975 and 2001 Richard was Editor of the International Who's Who. Richard has a family connection with Captain Bligh.

Admission

Attendance at the lecture only is £5/person

Wardroom bar opens at 17:45. Lecture begins at 1830 and is followed by optional supper: two courses + glass of wine for £32/person or £27 for a Friend of the Wellington Trust. Includes lecture donation in each case. Membership subscriptions of the Friends start at £50 pa.

Booking by the preceding Thursday is required for both lecture and, if taken, supper. Please contact the Business Manager on (020) 7836 8179 or info@thewellingtontrust.com

Website

http://www.thewellingtontrust.com/trust/news?pnum=1

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Lt Cdr Stephen Beattie and the St Nazaire raid

  • 13 February 2017

Added to the German U-boat threat during the Second World War was that of the battleship, Tirpitz. Were it to leave Norwegian waters for the Atlantic, it would have had a decisive effect on naval operations. Denying the use for potential repairs of the only dry dock on the Atlantic coast able to accommodate the 50,000 ton ship thus was the objective of ‘Operation Chariot’.

HMS Campbeltown, a former US Navy destroyer built in 1919, escorted by 18 Coastal Forces’ small craft, steamed up the Loire estuary under fire and rammed the dry dock caisson at 0134 on 28th March 1942. 4½ tons of explosive in the bow of the ship exploded at 1200 and the dock was left unusable for the rest of the War.

Five Victoria Crosses, four DSOs, seventeen DSCs and eleven MCs were awarded following the raid.

Lt Cdr Beattie's VC citation read ‘For great gallantry and determination in the attack on St. Nazaire in command of HMS Campbeltown. Under intense fire directed at the bridge from point blank range of about 100 yards, and in the face of the blinding glare of many searchlights, he steamed her into the lock-gates and beached and scuttled her in the correct position. This Victoria Cross is awarded to Lieutenant-Commander Beattie in recognition not only of his own valour but also of that of the unnamed officers and men of a very gallant ship's company, many of whom have not returned.’

A Heritage Evening lecture by Nick Beattie who attended Pangbourne College, becoming Chief of College before joining the Royal Navy in 1961 on a short service commission. He joined the Submarine service in 1965, serving in six boats, the last two, HMS Token and Oberon as First Lieutenant. After ten years in the RN, he has worked in various business sectors, latterly as an independent consultant and mentor to CEOs and MDs of smaller companies. Lt Cdr Stephen Beattie's son, Nick is the Honorary Chairman of the St Nazaire Society, dedicated to the memory of those who took part in the raid.

Suitable for

  • Not suitable for children

Admission

Attendance at the lecture only is £5/person

Wardroom bar opens at 17:45. Lecture begins at 1830 and is followed by optional supper: two courses + glass of wine for £32/person or £27 for a Friend of the Wellington Trust. Includes lecture donation in each case. Membership subscriptions of the Friends start at £50 pa.

Booking by the preceding Thursday is required for both lecture and, if taken, supper. Please contact the Business Manager on (020) 7836 8179 or info@thewellingtontrust.com

Website

http://www.thewellingtontrust.com/trust/news?pnum=1

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Covert Operations in the Second World War

  • 13 March 2017

Special operations conducted covertly by sea began soon after the German occupation of Norway in April 1940 and lasted until the end of the Second World War in Europe in May 1945. A number of organisations were created to conduct a range of clandestine operations that linked Britain and other friendly countries with enemy occupied territory in Scandinavia, Europe, the Mediterranean and the Far East. They were conducted by fast motor boats drawn from Coastal Forces, submarines and a range of craft that could blend in with those being operated by locals in the area of interest. Their various tasks included the insertion and recovery of agents; the rescuing of Allied aircrew; the collection of intelligence from covert ‘mail boxes’ in occupied territory; pre-invasion beach reconnaissance and the landing of Special Forces to carry out clandestine operations behind enemy lines. They had to operate in total secrecy and nearly all operations were conducted on dark nights with no moon. They made a valuable, and largely unrecognised, contribution to the outcome of the war.

A Heritage Evening lecture by Rear Admiral John Lang, this was the Institute of Seamanship's annual lecture in 2015.

John Lang served in both the Merchant and Royal Navies, first going to sea in 1959 with P&O. Transferring to the Royal Navy, he specialised in both submarines and navigation. After He commanding two submarines and a frigate, his last appointment before retiring in 1995 was as Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence in the rank of Rear Admiral.

On leaving the RN, John Lang spent 5 years as the UK’s Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents before devoting himself to voluntary work in the maritime sector. He has been the Chairman of the Shipwrecked Mariners Society, is President of the Association of Sail Training Organisations (ASTO), and a Vice President of the RNLI. He is a Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire, a younger Brother of Trinity House, and a Freeman of the Honourable Company of Master Mariners. He is also President of the Institute of Seamanship and sits on the Royal Yachting Association’s Yachtmasters Qualification Panel.

Admission

Attendance at the lecture only is £5/person

Wardroom bar opens at 17:45. Lecture begins at 1830 and is followed by optional supper: two courses + glass of wine for £32/person or £27 for a Friend of the Wellington Trust. Includes lecture donation in each case. Membership subscriptions of the Friends start at £50 pa.

Booking by the preceding Thursday is required for both lecture and, if taken, supper. Please contact the Business Manager on (020) 7836 8179 or info@thewellingtontrust.com

Website

http://www.thewellingtontrust.com/trust/news?pnum=1

Getting there

Bus: use any of these services to the Strand for the Victoria Embankment:-
4 Archway station - Waterloo
6 Willesden (Bus Garage) - Aldwych
9 Heathrow Terminal 5 - Aldwych
11 Ealing Broadway - Liverpool Street station
13 North Finchley - Aldwych
15 Romford Market - Trafalgar Square
23 Westbourne Park - Liverpool Street station
26 Hackney Wick - Waterloo
76 Tottenham Hale - Waterloo (Baylis Road)
87 Kingston - Aldwych
172 Brockley Rise - St Paul's station
341 Angel Road Superstores - County Hall

Underground: Circle or District line to Temple station.

DLR: nearest station is Bank.

National Rail: Blackfriars, Charing Cross or Waterloo station

London River Services: Blackfriars or Embankment pier.

HQS Wellington and the Wellington Trust
HQS Wellington
Temple Stairs
Victoria Embankment
London
WC2R 2PN

Website

www.thewellingtontrust.com

E-mail

info@thewellingtontrust.com

Telephone

(020) 7836 8179

Fax

(020) 7240 3082

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.
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