The Hague Family

The Hague Sailing Ship Model

This is a very recent addition to the Hague Family objects. A friend happened to take me for coffee to a local Garden Centre which had a small "Bric-a-Brac" shop, and inside I found this fabulous hand-crafted model. It is not a ship that my great-grandfather actually served on, that would be asking too much of providence! But it is a sailing ship of a style he would have recognised, and perhaps he would have served on very similar vessels during training and his early Navy days. The Royal Navy vessel was designed by John Edye, Chief Clerk in the Surveyor's Office to the directions of the Surveyor, Captain Sir William Symonds, and was thus labelled a "Symondite" type of vessel.

The model is a 1/48th scale of the "two-decker" H.M.S. Ajax. It was hand-crafted by a gentleman of the name Alan Giles, who completed the model in 2004. I have been unable to find out anything at all about this man, who was clearly a very skilled and accomplished modeller. He does appear to have served in the RAF at some time.

The model is unusual in that it shows the vessel in the progress of some repairs being carried out in dry-dock. Hence the "missing" hull planking in a couple of places. I think this adds a nice touch of realism to the model. Shining a torch light through the "gaps" shows additional modelling hidden inside the hull! Also visible are two cannon being "slung" by the main mast yard arm, presumably depicting them being transferred to or from the ship during the works.

The vessel on which the model was created was launched in 1835 as HMS Vanguard, and renamed HMS Ajax in 1867. She was scrapped in 1875 and the model was created based on the vessel as she appeared circa 1872. She became the fourth of what is today (2021) a list of nine vessels to carry the name "Ajax". Wikipedia describes her as a 78 gun, third rate vessel. [Trivia Alert! I happened to once work with an inspector who had served as chief stoker on the seventh HMS Ajax which took part in the famous "Battle of the River Plate" at the start of the Second World War.]

Wikipedia lists the "general characteristics" of the vessel as:

Class and type : Vanguard class ship of the line
Displacement2889 tons (2935.4 tonnes)
Tons burthen2609 bm
Length190 ft (58 m) (gundeck)
Length155 ft 3 in (47.3 m) (keel, for tonnage)
Beam56 ft 9 in (17.30 m)
Depth of hold23 ft 4 in (7.11 m)
Sail planFull-rigged ship
Complement700-750 officers and men (gun crew = 702 men)

Armament : 78 guns (4 July 1832, as ordered):
Gundeck: 26 32 pdrs (56 cwt), 2 68 pdr carronades
Upper gundeck: 30 32 pdrs (56 cwt)
Quarterdeck: 10 32 pdrs (25 cwt)
Forecastle: 2 18 pdrs (42 cwt), 4 32 pdr carronades (25 cwt)
Poop deck: 4 18 pdr carronades (10 cwt)

Armament : 80 guns (3 December 1834 - as launched):
Gundeck: 26 32 pdrs (56 cwt), 2 68 pdr carronades (60 cwt)
Upper gundeck: 26 32 pdrs (48 cwt), 2 68 pdr carronades (60 cwt)
Quarterdeck: 14 32 pdrs (48 cwt)
Forecastle: 2 32 pdrs (48 cwt), 4 32 pdr carronades (25 cwt)
Poop deck: 4 18 pdr carronades (10 cwt)

Cost to build: 56,983
Cost to fit for sea: 20,756
Total Cost at time of build (1832/5): 77,739. Approximately 9 million in 2021 value.

HMS Vanguard, June 1837

In this image, the vessel has her starboard side "studding sails" extended on the top and top-gallant yards on the fore-mast, and on the top-gallant yard on the main. The perspective shows that the vessel is sailing "beam reach", i.e. the view is slightly ahead of the starboard beam, and the wind clearly virtually on her starboard side. Although logic might suggest it not possible for the ship to move forward with the wind directly on one beam, or even ahead of it (known as "beating" with close-hauled sails), the physics of a sailing ship do show it to be possible. The explanation of how it works is, however, somewhat complicated to describe! [See this explanation.]