Naval collection on the move

Plymouth Central Library’s extensive naval history collection is moving to Devonport Library this weekend.

The collection includes books, images, journals and other artefacts and provides a fascinating background to the history of the Royal Navy in Plymouth. It is moving to Devonport ahead of the relocation of the Central Library and eventually being homed in the History Centre in 2020.

Devonport Library was chosen for its rich naval history and proximity to the Devonport Naval Heritage Centre in South Yard.

Councillor Jon Taylor, Cabinet member for Community Services and Transformation, said: “Devonport Library is a great home for this fascinating collection, which will eventually be housed at the History Centre. The move has given staff an opportunity to go through the items we have in storage and showcase some real treasures that haven’t been on display for many years. We hope lots of people will go along to Devonport Library to browse the resources and discover more about Plymouth’s rich naval heritage.”

Highlights of the collection that will be on display for the first time in many years include original manuscript logbooks for HMS Monmouth, 1756; HMS Resolution, 1899-1900 and HMS Goliath, 1900-1901.

The logbook for HMS Monmouth was kept by Master, John Thomas, who recorded the ship’s position and course and the weather, alongside details of tasks undertaken by the ship’s crew. An entry for Wednesday 23 June 1756 reads: “Moderate and fair weather, sent 60 sick men on shore…fired nineteen guns for his present Majesty’s accession to the throne, and began to fire the evening and morning guns, received 30 butts of beer and returned several empty casks.

Staff at Devonport Library will be asking the public for help in identifying and decoding some mystery photographs from the naval image collection, which will be on display in the library and online.

Graham Naylor, Group Manager at the Central Library said “We’re really excited to show off this large and varied collection, which includes items relating to all aspects of the Royal Navy and naval history. It is an especially rich resource for those researching WWI naval history, other famous naval battles and campaigns through history and biographies of naval personalities.”

A number of events are being held at Devonport Library to celebrate the launch of the collection in its new home.

On Sunday 15 November, to coincide with the open day at the Devonport Naval Heritage Centre, the library will be open from 10am to 2pm. People will be able to browse the naval collection and see the exhibition of manuscript logbooks, as well as other rare naval books, images and artefacts.

There’s a chance to find out how to research your naval ancestors on Wednesday 18 November, with expert staff on hand to help from 10am to midday.

Graham Naylor will be giving a talk on ‘Researching your naval ancestors’ on Friday 20 November at 2pm. Booking is recommended.

On Saturday 21 November the regular rhymetime for babies and toddlers will have a nautical theme. It runs from 11am to 11.30am.