We have a wide range of model ships showing their development from early Viking craft, through medieval and later sailing ships to 19th and 20th-century powered craft. Don’t miss our new exhibit on the “Last gasp of Sail”.
There is a section on modern ships built at the Appledore shipyard, including the bow sections of the new aircraft carriers HMS Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales, and a series of coastal patrol craft for the Irish navy.
There are several exhibits displaying wooden-ship building tools, sail-making, and rope manufacture. Throughout the museum, you will find half-models of locally built ships. In particular, there is a magnificent model of HMS Tees, built in Bideford in 1814.
There is a section on the history of Richmond Dry Dock, now unused but still on view in Appledore. There is a model of a 19th-century local shipyard.
A difficult but critical issue for sailors. We show a range of navigation instruments, compasses, telescopes, sextants, charts and maps. There is a ship’s wheel and engine-room telegraph. Conversely, there is an exhibit focussing on local wrecks and lifeboat activity.
North Devon suffered the predations of Corsair pirates and was the home of several famous pirates and privateers of our own. Smuggling too was a common practice; we have an exhibit of some of the weapons used in these activities. There are also exhibits covering emigration, cooperage, gravel barges on the Torridge and the limestone trade.
French frogman, René Le Roy (he trained our first naval frogmen at HMS Appledore), stands guard to our “war room” where we exhibit a range of photographs and film of local activities for the preparation of the D-Day landings (COXE – the Combined Operations Experimental Establishment), a section of PLUTO (Pipeline Under the Ocean), and “Hobart’s Funnies” (The work of General Sir Percy Hobart). There is also an exhibit about HMS Bideford.
There is a display about Sir Richard Grenville, a 16th-century sailor born in nearby Bideford. We also have several tableaux showing historical marine events, and a model of Appledore Quay in the days of sail; many of today’s buildings are still recognisable.
Local Social History
Throughout the Museum you will find exhibits about local activities: a typical Appledore kitchen at the turn of the 20th century, now disappeared railways, ferries, ancient and modern local pottery, an “Appledore Frock”, and well-known people who made up the community.