Rule Britannia – Trafalgar to Jutland

The Royal Navy in the years following Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar [1805] was without rivals. For decades it controlled the world’s seaways and made them safe from pirates, slavers and all manner of threats to trade. But the 19th century witnessed profound changes in all aspects of naval life: sail gave way to steam; the wooden walls were replaced with iron and steel; the mighty broadside of muzzle-loading guns firing round shot became the turret-guns sending shells miles across the water. And there were torpedoes, submarines and aircraft to be understood. Manning the fleet was also transformed as technology required a new type of officer and rating. This is a fascinating story of a great and trusted object of national pride at a time of unprecedented change. When in 1914 the navy was again at war the public expectation was enormous – would the fleet prove worthy of its reputation?