‘The shrine of manly virtues’: the 1920s Restoration of HMS Victory, Sarah Westbury


HMS Victory post-restoration. Detail from late 1920s postcard. Image: Sarah Westbury

Over the past year I’ve been researching HMS Victory, the 251 year old warship preserved in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. The Victory is already the subject of dozens of publications, but these focus almost exclusively on the ship’s military career – so the famous battles it fought in, the famous admirals in command – and focussing especially on its role as the flagship of Admiral Horatio Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

But despite all of this published work, for me, the most interesting, and largely forgotten chapter of the ship’s history is actually its preservation and restoration in the 1920s. This was when an organisation called the Society for Nautical Research, who were a motley crew of antiquarians, naval architects, artists, and retired admirals persuaded the Admiralty to let them take control of the Victory’s future. By 1921 the Victory was found to be badly decayed: the First World War had seen to it that the Admiralty’s attention and resources had been distracted elsewhere.

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Programme, Sea Lines of Communication 2016: Discovery: 17 November 2016

 We are delighted to announce the programme for the Southampton Marine and Maritime Postgraduate Group’s third annual colloquium, Sea Lines of Communication: Discovery. The event celebrates and encourages diverse and interdisciplinary postgraduate and early career research across all fields of marine and maritime studies. The event is free, and open to all. We hope you will join us – please register here:

 Programme below the cut:

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How Humpback Whales Talk, and why Grey Whales Listen, Nicholas Flores Martin


Humpback whale, photograph by Jaqueline Clare

Nicholas Flores Martin is a PhD student within the CDT-SIS group, currently working on developing an acoustic-based behavioural guidance system for fish. His talk dealt with the mechanics of humpback whale vocalisation and investigating the potential use of ambient sound by grey whales for navigation and foraging.

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Black and white photograph of the Imperator

Port Out, Southampton Home with Maria Newbery


This week, the SMMPG were treated to a tour of SeaCity Museum’s latest special exhibition, Port Out, Southampton Home by Maria Newbery. In addition to being a SeaCity Curator, Maria is also a PhD student researching Southampton’s trade in the late 1700s – so we were extremely grateful for her time!

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Call for Abstracts: Sea Lines of Communication 2016

Theme: Discovery
Location: Hartley Suite, Highfield Campus, University of Southampton
Date: 17 November 2016
Abstract Submission Deadline (NOW EXTENDED): 13th May 2016

The Southampton Marine and Maritime Postgraduate Group (SMMPG) would like to invite abstracts for a multidisciplinary conference. SMMPG is a collaboration between the University of Southampton’s postgraduate academics, the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute (SMMI), and Lloyd’s Register. The group aims to encourage multidisciplinary  research by fostering discourse between many disciplines, from shipbuilding to archaeology and oceanography to literature.

The theme of the conference is Discovery, which is meant to be taken in a broad sense. As such, ideas for papers include (but are not limited to):

  • how do you rediscover centuries-old maritime history?
  • the discovery of new technologies to address current problems
  • new ways of improving mariners’ physical and mental health
  • how do new and novel technologies affect the interpretation of the law?
  • how does our understanding of maritime geography influence literature?
  • how do we adapt to the effects of global climate change?

The event builds on the highly successful conferences of the last two years, where papers from diverse disciplines were presented to audiences of scholars and professionals from various maritime fields; and published in a monograph of the day’s papers. As befits the theme of Discovery, we hope to engage researchers from many diverse fields to inspire a new approach to maritime research.

We are accepting abstracts from postgraduate and early-career researchers in any discipline, for papers which resonate with the theme of Discovery and relate to any four of the SMMI’s broad themes:

Society & Government ● Trade & Transport ● Energy & Resources ● Climate & Environment

Papers will each last 15 minutes and will be organised into four panels based on the categories above. Each panel will be introduced by an established academic and followed by a period of discussion. Additionally on the day we will be having poster presentations. Therefore, we will be accepting abstracts for these as well. While Discovery is the broad theme we have chosen to work within, the conference’s focus is firmly on the concept of multidisciplinary communication. The ultimate aim of the conference is to forge connections between academics with different fields of expertise as well as engage with the wider public, including representatives from business and industry. As such, the presentations should be delivered with the aim of communicating the paper’s central themes and proceedings will be published in a book, which aims to develop a set of tools that can be used to further multidisciplinary research and develop our understanding of the maritime world.

Please send your proposal (250-300 words) to smmpg@soton.ac.uk by Friday 13th May, 2016. Abstracts should be formatted in a Word file and attached to the email. Please include your full name, the name of your university, and a brief bio. Themes are open to interpretation. Please indicate if your abstract is for a presentation or a poster. Please direct any questions to the conference organisers at the above email address.

Press Releases, Social Media, and More: Catherine Beswick, SMMI Editor-in-Residence

This week we welcomed Catherine Beswick, SMMI Editor-in-Residence, to talk to us about her (new) role, and how we, as postgraduate researchers, can benefit from her work. In Catherine’s own words, her job is to ‘shout about’ the work of the SMMI and its students to the outside world. While a big part of being a postgrad is about learning how to get your work out to academic audiences, Catherine is here to help us to share research with audiences outside of academia: be that the media, policy-makers, or relevant industries. Catherine has a background in Oceanography & Earth Sciences, and is dedicated to getting all kinds of marine and maritime research out to the audiences who could benefit the most from it.

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Turbulence and the Beach, guest post by Hachem Kassem


Me inBardexII

Hachem surveying the beach in between wave runs during the BARDEX II experiments.



Hachem Kassem, an SMMI PhD researcher based in Ocean and Earth Science, gave a talk as part of the SMMPG seminar series, on turbulence and its role is shaping the beach. His talk, enthusiastically called “Turbulence and the Beach” answered our much sought after question, ‘what does Hachem actually study?’. Attempting to present the most complex problem in classical physics to an audience of non-physicists, Hachem presented ample examples of turbulence in nature and engineering from the daily cup of coffee to the raging storms on Jupiter. Art depicting nature such as van Gogh’s Stormy night, and a selection of historical quotes often highlighting the frustration of those who endeavoured to study this problem, where heavily featured, with quotes like:

Turbulence was probably invented by the Devil of the seventh day of creation (when the Good Lord wasn’t looking (Bradshaw, 1994, J. Exp. Fluids)


‘this area of research has quite a lot in common with studies of alleged paranormal phenomena, precognition, telepathy , ghosts, messages from the underworld, and so on” (McComb, 1990, the Physics of Fluid Turbulence).

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Building Legacies, Founding Dynasties: Motherhood, Construction and Lineage in the Literature of the Middle Ages (Kirsty Bolton)

This week, Kirsty took us through the role of Medieval women in terms of lineage, as well as their depiction in contemporary literature. During this era, women were subject to patriarchal control, and so their representation in literature is an important avenue of research.

Kirsty has particular interest in the relationship women seem to have with water. The first character that was discussed is that of Melusine, a Medieval woman from folklore who is often depicted as a serpent or fish.


Throughout the story of Melusine, the daughter of a human father and a fairy mother. It is often eluded that she too has fairy powers; for example, she leads her sisters in the revenge against their father by locking him in a mountain. As punishment, when she is married she cannot see her husband on Sundays, which is when she would transform into something Other than human (generally thought to be a mermaid). Further evidence of her possible fairy heritage is seen in the strange deformities eight of her ten sons have, although this could also be a part of her punishment.

Eventually, Melusine’s husband breaks his vow and spies on her during her enchanted bath on a Sunday, which causes her to transform into a dragon. However, the role of Melusine as mother is never diminished and is in fact entirely separate to her transformation, as each evening she returns to nurse her infant sons.

The second character that Kirsty discussed with us was the Lady of the Lake, who first appears in the Lancelot Grail.


While Lancelot’s mother was fleeing from their besieged castle she is so consumed with grief at the death of her husband that she leaves Lancelot to die. It is here that the Lady of the Lake takes Lancelot from his mother and raises him, nurturing him as if he were her own.

The Lady of the Lake is perhaps more famous for giving Excalibur to King Arthur, therefore making his power one highly connected to water. The Lady of the Lake even acts as a foil to Morgan le Fay, thwarting her attempts to disrupt Arthur.

Like Melusine, it is suggested that the Lady of the Lake has a fairy heritage that allows her to live under the water or that the lake is actually a glamour to conceal her actual home; either way, her connects to magic and the lake are very strong.

Investigation of Wave Impacts on Porous Structures for Coastal Defences (Robbie Mayon)

This week Robbie Mayon, one of the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institutes’ PhD researchers, spoke with our group about the impacts (literally and metaphorically) waves can have on our coastlines.

We are looking at roughly 1-meter rise in sea level over next 80 years as a best case scenario–worst case being a 2-meter rise, which would lead to over 1 million homes lost in the UK. We therefore must develop and deploy better coastal defence structures and materials if we hope to combat this.

There are four main types of waves: spilling, plunging, collapsing, and surging. Breaking_wave_types

For Robbie, plunging waves are key to his work. When a wave impacts, there’s a large pressure spike, followed by some oscillation afterwards. It is this pressure spike and the oscillations that come after that Robbie is currently modelling to determine what can be done to dampen the effects of these types of waves. He uses OpenFOAM CFD Package to model his waves, using a Dambreak flow simulation.

The main area of concern that he has encountered is air bubbles in the water, as the fluctuations of these bubbles can cause further impacts on the coast (or area that was impacted). His research is focusing in on a way to eliminate these air bubbles, and thus lessening the damage from waves.

Robbie graduated with a BEng degree in Civil and Structural engineering from the University of Aberdeen in 2006, with his dissertation focussing on Finite Element Methods for the design of structural steel connections. Following on from this he worked as a Structural Design Engineer with a consultancy firm based in the British West Indies. In 2014 he obtained an MSc degree in Engineering Simulation and Modelling (First class honours) from Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland, with his dissertation focusing on investigating the phenomenology of soil liquefaction and subsequent slope failure using the smoothed particle hydrodynamics method.