£10,000 lottery grant to create online CGI tour of Darwin’s HMS Beagle

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Rochford District Council has been awarded a £10,000 National Lottery Heritage Fund grant, for a project which will create an exciting online CGI tour of the historic HMS Beagle.

Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project will enable visitors to Wallasea Island to hold their smartphone up to the horizon and see exactly how the ship would have looked like in situ, in the late 19th century.

HMS Beagle is a ship of national and international significance, best known for her hydromapping commissions to the southern hemisphere under Commander Robert Fitzroy and his onboard scientist, Charles Darwin.

When she was sold by the Royal Navy to the civilian coastguard service in 1850 she began a second career as a customs watch vessel stationed at Paglesham, in the Rochford District, to deter smuggling which was at that time rife along the Essex coastline. 

Rochford District Council (RDC) has for many years been working with leading experts in the field of marine archaeology to establish HMS Beagle's last resting place. Last Summer, Historic England commissioned Wessex Archaeology to investigate the site, and discovered the original mud dock where she was dismantled, with further analysis due to be undertaken.

The Council has now commissioned an observation platform at nearby Wallasea Island to mark these findings and commemorate the 200th anniversary of Beagle's launch in May 2020, at a spot which will overlook her last resting place.  This will be in place in time for the district’s celebration of the bi-centennial, ‘Discover 2020: 200 years of HMS Beagle’ with an authentic family-friendly event to be held at the Freight House, in Rochford, on May 30 and 31, 2020.

By then, physical interpretation boards will be in place at Wallasea Island, with linkages to the tour by way of QR code, enabling visitors to engage with the site via tablet or smartphone. 

Rochford District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Enterprise, Cllr Simon Wootton, said: “I am delighted that the National Lottery Heritage Fund has agreed to provide £10,000 to fund this project, which will enable visitors to lift their smartphones to the horizon and actually observe the HMS Beagle as she once was, both when she was moored at Paglesham but also with full masts and rigging, just as she would have been in Charles Darwin’s time.

“It will be an exciting opportunity to transport yourself back to the late 19th century , using the latest in CGI technology, to see this great ship which changed the course of history and science.”

For the latest updates on Discover 2020:200years of HMS Beagle go to www.discover2020.co.uk or follow our social media channels:

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