Nelson's Spirit Lives On
A long plank of decking from an illustrious British battleship is being reborn as a sea chest for the new captain of HMS Queen Elizabeth, the UK’s new aircraft carrier. The seven foot piece of teak from HMS Nelson was gifted to the Chippendale International School of Furniture in East Lothian. The school, with an international reputation, is the only one of its kind in Scotland.
HMS Nelson played an illustrious part in WW2 and was Flagship of the Home Command. She was broken up at Inverkeithing in 1949. The Chippendale school held an internal competition to see how best to make a piece of furniture from this last remaining part of the flagship battleship’s decking. The competition was won by Campbell Deeming (38) from Aberdeenshire, who is a qualified boat builder from the International Boat Building College in Lowestoft.
The piece of teak is now to be made into the Nelson Chest and, with the Royal Navy’s approval and encouragement, will be presented to the incoming captain of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, which is due to start sea trials in September. Because of rules and regulations, the chest is to be bought by a benefactor and then gifted to the Navy – with the proceeds going to charities associated with HMS Queen Elizabeth. The Navy is delighted that a small piece of history is to be preserved and given a new life in a new ship.
"This piece of rare wood is from a battleship that was twice flagship of the Home Fleet during her lifetime, with service in almost every naval theatre in WWII except the Pacific,” said Campbell Deeming. "The size, stability and patina of the relic convinced me that it would be perfect as a traditional sea chest and ditty box - two practical nautical items with a provenance of some great value,” he said. "It then dawned on me that right on the doorstep where this flagship was scrapped, a new flagship was being born. Why not link the two together, with a sense of continuity and tradition?
Campbell Deeming is a student and teaching assistant at the Chippendale International School of Furniture. He is a graduate of the University of Edinburgh as well as the International Boatbuilding Training College. He then returned to Scotland and worked as a boatbuilder for the Portsoy Cobble Project and the Scottish Traditional Boat Festival, before enrolling at the Chippendale school to study design and learn new techniques. After graduation, Campbell will be establishing The Lost Journeyman Workshop, specialising in contemporary furniture, boat restorations and interiors.
“The Chippendale furniture school was kindly donated a piece of decking from HMS Nelson and we held a competition at the school to determine how best to preserve this piece of history in an appropriate way,” said Anselm Fraser, principal of the Chippendale school. “The idea of turning it into a captain’s sea chest and donating it to the Royal Navy for the use of the new captain of Britain’s biggest warship, HMS Queen Elizabeth, won the competition. “The Royal Navy has been an enthusiastic partner in turning Campbell’s idea into reality, a fantastic example of how an old timber plank can be transformed into something new, and provide a tangible link between the past and the future,” he said.
Each year the Chippendale School takes some 25 students from around the world for 30-week immersive courses, cramming three years of study into less than one year. This year’s intake comes from the UK, USA, Austria, Australia, Singapore, Germany and South Korea.
The school also offers incubation space on-site, so that graduating students can set up in business within the school, and have access to ongoing advice and specialist help – a practical way to ensure that students make a successful transition into full-time self-employment.
The school teaches age-old craftsmanship coupled with modern techniques, and aims to unlock students’ latent creativity. Former students can be found from Australia and Japan to the USA and Canada – and everywhere in between.