Articles, Maritime History

The Warship Figureheads of Portsmouth

The Warship Figureheads of Portsmouth

By David Pulvertaft, Illustrated by Kevin Dean

Figureheads are a specialised but intriguing aspect of maritime history but there is little written about them, their history and the tradition. Nearly every maritime museum possesses a few despite the number that were left to moulder away in gardens or damp stores. One of the finest collections in the world is the Royal naval collection at Portsmouth and it is an appropriate subject for this fine book.

This work covers the history of the collection in detail but also covers the entire story of the subject of figureheads.   There is a complete description of each item in the collection.  Surprisingly figureheads have been released from the collection since its foundation at the Dockyard museum in 1890s. Some of these were lost when their new location was disturbed.    Other figureheads in the Portsmouth area are also covered for the sake of completeness.   This volume adds greatly to knowledge of the topic and is rewarding reading for any maritime enthusiast.

The illustrations are superb and this is a particular feature of this book because figureheads are very difficult to photograph from a useful angle and give decent shading and detail.  This is another triumph for the vast output of the History press.

Published by the The History Press, Gloucestershire, 2010,  ISBN 9780752450766  £25