‘Discover 2020: 200 years of HMS Beagle’ launch held to mark Darwin’s birthday!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020
  • Join us to celebrate 200 years since the launch of the vessel on which Charles Darwin embarked on his voyage of discovery; a journey leading to breakthroughs in science, meteorology and even space exploration.
  • HMS Beagle was finally decommissioned by the Royal Navy in 1845 when she was transferred to the Coastguard and repurposed as ’Southend watch vessel No 7, stationed at Paglesham in Rochford District, to combat the smuggling that was rife at this time.
  • A host of scientific, social and maritime organisations will be gathering in the Rochford district for an event to celebrate the HMS Beagle and its connection with Rochford District, with the aim of sparking an interest in the world of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) for future generations.
  • This is a FREE family-friendly event to be held on May 30 and 31, 2020 – tickets must be booked at HMSBeagle.Eventbrite.co.uk

HMS Beagle was a relatively modest ship with a world changing impact; the year 2020 will mark 200 years since the launch of this vessel upon which Charles Darwin made the discoveries which led to his revolutionary scientific theories.

The research he undertook on the ship from 1831-1836 inspired his ground-breaking theory of evolution by natural selection, eventually leading to the publication of ‘On the Origin of Species’ as well as other key works based on his observations.

He said this journey had “determined my whole career,” a period during which he collected specimens, made copious notes and observed the geological formations, volcanoes and earthquakes that would shape his future thinking.

The ship’s legacy does not end there, as the Beagle was captained by Commander Robert Fitzroy, founder of the Met Office, a ground-breaking meteorologist who published the world’s first weather forecasts.

This pioneering spirit of adventure will be celebrated in “Discover 2020: 200 years of HMS Beagle”, an event designed to inspire future generations through a host of STEAM activities connected to the history of the ship; her role in combatting smuggling on the Essex coast; and her lasting legacy in the fields of science and engineering. 

The launch of the event has been held on 12 February to mark ‘Darwin Day’, which is celebrated internationally to mark the birthday of Charles Darwin and FREE tickets will be bookable from this date at HMSBeagle.Eventbrite.co.uk

The line-up will include live science experiments and games, hands-on interactive exhibits, an introduction to a new CGI tour of the HMS Beagle funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, live performances, Essex Police Marine Unit boats, an opportunity to hear from the experts, and much more.

The event has been sponsored by Rochford District Council with support from London Southend Airport , Essex Chambers of Commerce, Essex & South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership, Tina Wing Photography, Palmers Solicitors and Sorrells Custom Wine Rooms.

There will be contributions from many renowned organisations including the, the Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, the Linnean Society, English Heritage’s Down House (Darwin’s former home), the RSPB, and the Geological Society.

Rochford District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Enterprise, Cllr Simon Wootton, said: “The HMS Beagle was a trailblazer; a vessel which paved the way for discoveries in the fields of science and meteorology and effectively shaped significant aspects of the world we live in today.

“We are intensely proud that this prestigious vessel, which shaped Darwin’s revolutionary theories, spend its final days in the Rochford District combatting smuggling along the coastline.

“It is only fitting that we mark its bicentennial with a free family event designed to inspire the next generation to become ‘young explorers’ themselves and discover the world around them through science, technology, engineering, arts and maths. “

In addition, Rochford District Council is creating a lasting commemoration to the HMS Beagle in the form of an observation platform at Wallasea Island Wild Coast Project, overlooking the river Roach where the ship was moored. From this spot, thanks to the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund, visitors will be able to immerse themselves in a CGI Tour of the HMS Beagle simply by holding their smartphones or tablets up to the horizon.

Rachel Fancy, Warden, Wallasea Island & Foulness, RSPB, said: ‘It’s amazing to think that the final resting place of such an important ship in history is so close to our RSPB nature reserve on Wallasea Island.

“We are really pleased to take part in the Discover 2020 event as it covers such a wide variety of topics and activities. The fact that the Beagle voyaged thousands of miles discovering new species links nicely to the fact that some of the species that visit Wallasea Island also travel thousands of miles to be here.’

Denise Rossiter, Chief Executive of Essex Chambers of Commerce, said:  “There is a growing interest in the environment of our planet and this is something that is increasingly shared by many businesses large and small. We can trace much of that interest back over the centuries to pioneering explorers like Charles Darwin and his epic scientifically ground breaking voyage on HMS Beagle, which ended its distinguished career in our own county of Essex at Paglesham.

“Today, as a Chamber, we are supporting businesses of all types and size who wish to explore the world for a different reason in search of new markets so I feel it is fitting that Essex Chambers of Commerce are one of the sponsors of ‘Discover 2020: 200 Years of HMS Beagle’ and wish all involved with this project every success.”

Glyn Jones, CEO of Stobart Aviation, said: “We are very pleased to be sponsoring Discover 2020: 200 years of HMS Beagle. Events and initiatives such as this are central to our desire to support sustainable tourism in the region. HMS Beagle played an important role in the growth of trade and movement in Essex 200 years ago. As an airport, we hope to make a similarly important contribution to the economic growth of the region today, whilst doing so in a sustainable and environmentally conscious way.”

June Povey, Essex & South Suffolk Community Rail Partnership Officer, said: “We are delighted to support 200 years of HMS Beagle and to highlight the easy links by train. Plan your journey at greateranglia.co.uk and we look forward to welcoming you aboard.”

Tina Wing, of Tina Wing Photography, added: "I'm so very excited to be part of this wonderful project celebrating our local history. I've always enjoyed the stories of smuggling along the Essex coast, so I'll be intrigued to learn about the part The Beagle played in combating this along with its most famous journeys with Charles Darwin.

“I'm really looking forward to photographing the celebrations in May."

To find out more, go to: Discover2020.co.uk

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A brief history of HMS Beagle can be found attached below. 

Press Release attachments
File Launch of HMS Beagle - a history.docx20.43 KB20963