HMS Beagle

beagle model
A 1:40 scale model of HMS Beagle. Courtesy of Simon Keynes

In her first two voyages (1826–30 and 1831–6) the officers and men of the Beagle contributed significantly to the knowledge of the coastal regions of South America, and then to the determination of longitudes around the globe; in her third (1837–43) they charted the coast of Australia. This was no small achievement for a ‘ten gun brig’. Built at Woolwich dockyard, on the Thames, in 1819–20, she was about 90ft (27.4m) long on her main deck, and 24ft 6in (7.5m) wide at her widest point. For five years she remained in dock at Woolwich until she was modified for surveying work. After her epic voyages under the command of Captain Pringle Stokes and Captain Robert FitzRoy, she became a coastguard watch vessel, and from the late 1840s was based in Essex. In May 1870 the Admiralty sold the Beagle for £540. She is presumed to have been broken up for scrap, although it is possible that the lower part of her hull may yet remain buried in the mud where she lay after her last years of gallant service.