DEVONPORT, THE HAMOAZE AND HMS DEFIANCE OFF WEARDE QUAY
(MP205). Frank Watson Wood (1862-1953). Watercolour heightened with white, dated 1935, signed "Frank W Wood" (LR) and inscribed "HMS DEFIANCE" (LL).
Limited Edition: 12 copies worldwide
Standard size: 24 x 10 inches (61 x 25.41 cms) approx.
Price band (mounted/matted and at Standard size): £125-£140
Although dated in Wood’s own hand 1935, this is clearly a scene of the early 1920s as defined by the fact there is an Orion Class battleship sitting between buoys just to the right of centre of the painting. As these ships were all out of service and scrapped by 1926 (HMS THUNDERER being the last to go in 1926) this scene is therefore dated accordingly although the watercolour was obviously not completed and dated until some time later. THUNDERER spent four years (1921-1925) as a sea going engineering training ship for cadets; and in view of her association with the Devonport area in general and engineering training in particular, the new officers’ training establishment built at Crownhill, Plymouth in the late 1950s was named HMS THUNDERER. Perhaps this is indeed THUNDERER herself in her final days (she is high out of the water, is wearing no jack or ensign although a whisp of white smoke does appear to show she is steaming a boiler or two).
HMS DEFIANCE (as inscribed on the watercolour by Wood) was the name given to the Royal Navy’s Devonport Torpedo School established in 1884 which was based around the old second rater HMS DEFIANCE, a 91 gun screw propelled ship who remained as the nucleus of the school until she was towed away for scrap in 1931. During those years various old ships and hulks joined and left the DEFIANCE group but a photograph in Maritime Prints’ possession shows precisely this layout of hulls and associated masts and spars. Dated 1920 it names them, from front to rear, left to right, as INCONSTANT, DEFIANCE, CLEOPATRA and SPARTAN.