Frigate Unicorn

(HM Frigate Unicorn)

Frigate Unicorn, Dundee
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Frigate Unicorn, Dundee

Located within the Victoria Docks of Dundee City, the Frigate Unicorn is the oldest British-built ship still afloat, having been launched in 1824. The 46-gun wooden warship, measuring 45.7m (150 feet) in length, was built at the Royal Dockyards at Chatham (Kent). Having been launched during peace-time, she was held in reserve and was only ever used as a powder-hulk, on the Thames at Woolwich, between 1857 and 1862.

The Unicorn was brought to the Earl Grey Dock in Dundee in 1873 as a drill-ship for the Royal Naval Reserve and she remained in service as RNVR/RNR Tay Division Headquarters ship until 1968. She was renamed HMS Cressy in 1941, when it was realised that a new aircraft carrier had been given the name 'Unicorn', but she was restored to her original name when this carrier was scrapped in 1959. Almost scrapped herself when it became known that the Earl Grey Dock was to be filled in, she was reprieved and moved to Victoria Dock in 1962.

Today, the ship is maintained by the Unicorn Preservation Society and she now forms an exhibit within City Quay, the regeneration project centred around the Victoria Dock. She portrays the flavour of life in the Royal Navy during the golden age of sail and complements Dundee's renowned Discovery Point Centre.

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