The Sail

A three-part exploration of the history and tradition contained in the fore-topsail of HMS Victory, a sail which last saw active service during the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.


01Making The Sail2000030320010108

The construction of the sail began in the last days of the 18th century in the flax fields of Scotland and ended in the sail lofts of Chatham in 1801. Narrated by Sharon Manitta, Peter Goodwin, Alastair Durie, Linda Colley and Roy Porter

02Working The Sail2000031020010115

The fore-topsail, one of the largest and most important sails on board, must always be kept working. But at the end of the battle there were only two sails left aloft. Narrated by Brian Gear.

03 LASTConserving The Sail2000031720010122

The story of how to conserve a cloth which is 6,000 yards square and 200 years old. The team must conquer the damp and learn how best to display the sail. With Brian Gear, Sharon Manitta and Peter Goodwin.