Laid down in 1855 but not launched until 12 November 1859, this screw ship of the line was prompted by the launch of the French steam three-decker La Bretagne. The French ship, Victoria and HMS Howe were the only ships of this type to be built. Victoria had unique machinery, with two sets of four boilers on each side and two funnels located to port and starboard respectively. Commissioned in the mid-19th century, when Britain was involved in no major sea wars, Victoria did not see much hostile action. In 1864, she was flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet. Manoeuvres, formal visits and considerable time spent within the anchorages of Gibraltar and Grand Harbour, Valletta, were the order of her day. Victoria’s latter service years were spent in home waters, and her last appearance was at the Spithead Naval Review of 1867. By this time advances in gunnery and hull design had made the ponderous three-decker virtually obsolete. Victoria was soon paid off, but she was not finally disposed of until 31 May 1893, when she was sold for breaking up.

Length: 260ft (79.2m)

Beam: 60ft (18.3m)

Depth: 25ft 10in (7.8m)

Displacement: 6959t

Rigging: three masts; square rig

Machinery: single screw, steam; 1000hp

Armament: 62 8in (203mm), 58 32pdr, one 68pdr guns

Complement: 1000

Fact File: Despite the warship-building rivalry between French and British, neither country was to go to war again with the other.