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Collections3rd March 2022

On This Day in 1756 NAMUR was launched at Chatham

Namur was a 2nd Rate, 90 gun ship of the line, 1814 tons bm*, 175ft long and 49ft wide.

Built at Chatham Dockyard and launched on 3rd March 1756. Namur began her active service at the Battle of Louisbourgh (1758), part of the seven years war (1756-63). During her service she was reduced to a 74-gun 3rd Rate ship in 1805; she was broken up at Chatham Dockyard in 1833.

If you visit the Historic Dockyard today, you can view 25% of the hull frames of Namur. The timbers were discovered under the floor of the Old Wheelwrights Workshop in 1995 and they now form an atmospheric part of the Command of the Oceans gallery.

There have been two warships named Namur that have served in the Royal Navy and they both had links to HMS Invincible. The recovery of artefacts from HMS Invincible is the topic of the Diving Deep: HMS Invincible 1744 temporary exhibition currently on display in No 1 Smithery.

The first Namur was a 2nd Rate, 90-gun ship of the line, 1442 tons bm*, 161ft long and 46fft wide, built at Woolwich Dockyard and launched in 1697. Rebuilt at Deptford in 1729, 1567 tons bm*. She was wrecked on 14.4.1749 in the East Indies. The first Namur engaged the L’Invincible during her capture.

*bm = builders measurement. Before 1873 the tonnage quoted for a ship was the builder’s measurement. It was based on a measurement of capacity, from possibly the 15th century, calculating the number of tuns (casks) of wine that the ship could carry.

Capture of L’Invinvible

May 1747 the first Battle of Finisterre. Namur (1697) was one of the ships of Vice Admiral Anson’s Squadron. On the 14th May at 08.30 the Namur, the leading ship of the Squadron, signalled that she had seen a fleet bearing south-west by south. The fleet spotted consisted of French warships escorting a convoy of merchant ships, the French warships plus three of the merchant ships (they were considered to have the look of 50-gun warships) formed into line of battle. At 16.00 the leading British ships caught up with the French rear guard (Namur was leading the British line of Battle). During the ensuring battle Namur engaged L’Invincible  twice. L’Invincible struck her colours just after 18.00. After the capture of L’Invincible the ship was put into Royal Navy service as HMS Invincible, she served with the Royal Navy between 1747-58.

The loss of HMS Invincible

The signal for the fleet to weigh anchor was hoisted from Admiral Boscawen’s flagship, Namur (1756), was hoisted at 02.30 on Sunday 19th February, 1758. Invincible was sailing as a part of an expedition to Canada to capture the Fortress of Louisbourg. Invincible set sail from an anchorage off the east coast of the Isle of Wight at St Helens. While getting under-way a number of unfortunate incidents occurred which resulted in Invincible running aground and becoming a total loss, thankfully there was no loss of life.

We hold a number of the artefacts recovered from the Invincible wreck site, you can view a permanent exhibition of selected items within our Command of the Oceans gallery.

During the Second World War two other vessels had an association with the name Namur:

With thanks to volunteer, Tony Peacock for researching and writing this article.

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