The history of ship's figureheads and Castles Shipbreaking is inextricably interlinked and an interesting record exists about many of the figureheads removed from the last of the Wooden Walls of the Navy and England. Castles retained for many years in their yards and museum at Baltic Wharf a large number of these famous artefacts.
An article by the figurehead historian Richard Hunter encapsulates the nostalgia frequently associated with the Castles Shipbreaking Company and the figureheads taken from the old sailing ships of the line. This article ‘MEMENTO MORI of Old England’s Glory’ is reproduced on this site.
Eric Walker, figurehead historian, as a young schoolboy said he can remember up to thirty figureheads being at the Baltic wharf site. He also witnessed the bombing of the site at 11pm on 16th April 1941 when a single bomb demolished the Castles office. ‘Up to a dozen figureheads instantly disappeared’. ‘Four hours later on 17th April, three more bombs finished off the rest of the offices and yard.
Several major figureheads were also on display at the Long’s Wharf, Woolwich site and a detailed record has been compiled of the surviving items that are distributed around the UK and also in the USA. Many pictures and photographs of these figureheads are included within chapter 9 of our eBook.
Castles Shipbreaking - Castles History Project
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