New Exhibition - Diving Deep: HMS Invincible 1744

New Exhibition - Diving Deep: HMS Invincible 1744

11 November 2020

Shipwrecks and diving below the waves have long captured the imagination, so when the National Museum of the Royal Navy’s Community Archaeologist Eileen Clegg described new exhibition Diving Deep: HMS Invincible 1744 as the closest to “diving without getting wet” we knew it would be something special.

Immersive Underwater Film Exhibit in the Diving Deep Gallery Portsmouth Historic Dockyard Credit NMRN

It’s a brand-new interactive exhibition packed with objects saved from the seabed; lots of hands-on fun for the family (all with lashings of hand sanitiser) and a fascinating display that tells the story of HMS Invincible, one of the most famous warships never heard of!

Visitors Reading a Display at Diving Deep Portsmouth Historic Dockyard Credit NMRN

Invincible was a game-changer in the way ships were built and influenced the design of one of the world’s most famous and enduring warships HMS Victory – which sits alongside the exhibition in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

She was originally built for the French navy but captured by the British in 1747.  Sadly, she sank in 1758 when she hit a sandbank in the East Solent, the body of water along the Hampshire south coast. She languished there until rediscovered by a local fisherman, Arthur Mack, nearly 200 years later.

In a race against tide and times, the ship was excavated underwater by a team of divers, thanks to a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Full of stores, provisions and equipment, the team recovered significant finds such as swivel guns, a gun port lid, the main stay and even a mop head and bucket. It’s probably the most important underwater archaeological excavation of its kind in UK waters for nearly 40 years, after the raising of the Mary Rose.

A Warship with Wig Curlers at Diving Deep Portsmouth Historic Dockyard Credit NMRN

One of the more intriguing finds were wig curlers, also on display, as officers onboard were very keen to maintain standards in appearance! One of the hands-on displays even challenges visitors to have-a-go at curling some hair.

The exhibition uses the latest in digital technology to bring the often unseen and mysterious world of underwater excavation to life in a really inventive way. Visitors are surrounded by a massive three-screen projection that showcases new ways of filming underwater.

Close up of the Immersive Underwater Film Exhibit at Diving Deep Portsmouth Historic Dockyard Credit NMRN

The exhibition is open for a year and tickets must be pre-booked at Buy an Ultimate Explorer today, and be ready for when the doors re-open after lockdown.

Replicas of Invincible’s artefacts already grace the gun decks of Victory and ticket holders can visit both the exhibition, Victory and the neighbouring Mary Rose Museum which is home to the world-famous Tudor shipwreck raised from the seabed in 1982.

Visitor Takes a Selfie with a Wig Prop at Diving Deep Portsmouth Historic Dockyard Credit NMRN