Snuff Box Made from Wood recovered from H.M.S.Temeraire
John Beatson paid £5530 for the H.M.S. Temeraire a figure which although very difficult to quantify today is in the region of £250,000.
The National Maritime Museum has a drawing done by John's brother William,
The image is signed 'Drawn by Wm. Beatson,dated 'September 1838'. His inscription below reads: ' THE TEMERAIRE 104 guns / This vessel, now lying at the wharf of Mr John Beatson of Rotherhithe, (who has purchased her of H.M. Commissioners [of the Admiralty] for / the purpose of breaking up) is the largest ship ever conducted so high up the River Thames, being in fact the largest ever sold / by government. The name of the Temeraire is immortalized by the distinguished part she bore in the memorable / Battle of Trafalgar when she was commanded by Captain Eliab Harvey.' Beatson includes accents in his spelling of 'Temeraire', which were usually omitted in the English spelling.
Approximately 5000 English oak trees were used in the construction of the hull.
The 'Temeraire' was badly damaged at the Battle of Trafalgar where she fought alongside the 'Victory' under the command of Captain Eliab Harvey. She was converted into a prison ship in 1812 and then, from 1815 to 1836, used as a receiving and depot ship at Sheerness. In August 1838 she was bought by John Beatson at a regular Navy Board ship auction and towed to Rotherhithe to be broken up, her final journey being famously commemorated (rather than accurately recorded) in J.M.W. Turner's painting, 'The Fighting Temeraire.'
Turner had seen Temeraire quite by chance from one of the steamships that carried passengers between London and Margate.
Wood from the ship was used to make various architectural features and furnishings for St Mary's Rotherhithe and her chapel of ease St Paul's, including columns, chairs, a table and altar rails. Beatson made twelve dining chairs from wood from the ship and when his brother emigrated to New Zealand in 1851 he took two with him, one now being in Whanganui Regional Museum.
According to an article published in The Times on 12th October 1838, one piece of wood went to a former sailor on the ship, to provide him with a false leg to replace the leg he lost at Trafalgar.
The Bellerophon was also broken up at Beatson's yard.
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