Sir Francis Drake sailed round the world between 1577 and 1580 in his ship the “Golden Hind”. He returned to England a wealthy man, largely due to his piratical behaviour towards the Spanish en route, and was able to repay his investors, including Queen Elizabeth I, many times over.
His ship went on public display in London, and was the first such ship to have that honour.
The ship in the photos, taken by me, is not Drake’s ship, as the original rotted away to nothing within 100 years, but a full-scale authentic replica that was built in Devon in 1973. It has sailed even further than Drake’s ship, notching up more than 140,000 miles in numerous voyages across the oceans, including a full circumnavigation of the world.
The replica is now moored permanently in a small dock, hemmed in by modern buildings, on Bankside near Southwark Cathedral and London Bridge. If you walk along the Thames Path on the south bank you will suddenly come across it as you turn a corner.
It is amazing to think that a ship as small as this could have carried 80 men around the world more than 400 years ago, but the voyage of the replica proved that it could be done.
The ship is now used mainly for educational purposes, with a fully costumed crew showing schoolchildren of all ages just what life was like on a 16th century sailing ship.