Sinking of the Royal George
On 28 August 1782 Royal George was preparing to sail with Admiral Howe's fleet to relieve Gibraltar. The ships were anchored at Spithead to take on supplies. Most of her complement were aboard ship, as were a large number of workmen to speed the repairs and other visitors or various occupations and family connections. During work on the hull the ship tilted over with the loss of some 900 people including roughly 300 women and 60 children, although 255 peole were saved.
Several attempts were made to raise the vessel, both for salvage and because it was a major hazard to navigation, lying as she did in a busy harbour at a depth of only 65 feet.
In 1782, Charles Spalding recovered six iron 12-pounder guns and nine brass 12-pounders using a diving bell of his design.
In 1839 Major-General Charles Pasley, at the time a Colonel of the Royal Engineers, commenced operations. Pasley had previously destroyed some old wrecks in the Thames.His operation set many diving milestones, including the first recorded use of the buddy system in diving, when he ordered that his divers operate in pairs. In the 1850s, timber from the ship was used to make the billiard table, still in use today, for the North Wing of Burghley House. Timber salvaged from the Royal George was also used to make the coffin for the famous menagerie owner George Wombwell who died in 1850. Several of the salvaged bronze cannon were melted down to form the base of Nelson's column in London's Trafalgar Square. A 24 pounder from the ship is part of the Royal Armouries collection and is on display at Southsea Castle.
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