Indefatigable figurehead restoration

15 November 2016 by Ben

group of people around a huge figurehead of a man in uniform

Unveiling the restored Indefatigable figurehead, with museum staff and members of the Indefatigable Old Boys Association and their families

There was an event at the Maritime Museum recently to unveil the newly restored Indefatigable figurehead.

The figurehead is from the ship HMS Indefatigable, which was a training ship preparing boys for the Royal and Merchant Navy. The school eventually moved to land and closed in 1996.

The Indefatigable Old Boys Association generously funded the conservation and restoration of the figurehead, which saw cracks and splits in the wood repaired and the figurehead repainted to return it to its 19th century appearance. The figurehead is affectionately known as King Billy by the old boys, as it depicts King William IV.

figurehead with cracks clearly showing

‘King Billy’ before restoration

If you compare the before and after images you will see that the restored figurehead looks quite different. The main changes are to the jacket which is a more accurate darker blue colour, and to the face. The face is a darker colour is depicted with a lot more character. This is how figureheads were painted at the time King Billy was built in 1848, they tend to lose this character and shading over time as successive paint jobs are undertaken. So it is nice to see King Billy more in keeping with how he would have looked back in 1848.

The figurehead can be seen displayed on the Maritime Museum 4th floor with other ships figureheads from the collections.


(Comments are closed for this post.)

About our blog

Welcome to the National Museums Liverpool blog! Written by our staff and volunteers, we’ll give you a peek behind the scenes of our museums and galleries.




We try to ensure that the information provided on our blog is accurate and that appropriate permissions to use images have been sought. The opinions in each blog are very much those of the individuals writing.