French 120-gun warship, c 1793-1815.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Detail of model. This model was built by French prisoners of war to represent the 'Ocean', a French 120-gun warship launched at Brest in 1790. French prisoners-of-war captured during the Napoleonic Wars were held at various prisons around Britain, including Dartmoor, Porchester Castle and Norman Cros. They began to produce ship models, some made from wood, others, such as this example, from bone, to sell in order to supplement their meagre pay. However, as the prisoners did not have scale drawings to work from, the models were not entirely accurate. The carvings, deck fittings and riggings are all very detailed, with some of the guns mounted onto concealed springs so that they can be run in and out of the gun ports by pulling a cord.