A REPLICA of an historic warship which brought news of Nelson’s death back to Britain’s shores has dropped anchor in the North-East.

HMS Pickle was a topsail schooner which was too small to take part in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, but brought news of the victory, and of Lord Nelson’s untimely demise, to the Admiralty in London following the sea battle.

The original Pickle sank in 1808 in the Bay of Cadiz but a lifesize replica was built in the 1990s ahead of the 200th anniversary of Trafalgar, using the original plans.

However the replica was later left to rot in Gibraltar before ship restorer Malcolm Nicholson bought it on an internet auction site.

“She was in an awful state,” he said. “She was filling with water. I couldn’t sail her back so spent a year and a half – and spent a lot of money – restoring her in Portugal.”

Now he has brought her to Hartlepool’s National Museum of the Royal Navy on a fleeting, week-long visit to the North-East, docking her in Hartlepool Marina, and later plans to sit her beside the world’s oldest warship still afloat, HMS Trincomalee.

Mr Nicholson, who runs a non-profit company restoring ships and other vehicles, Historic Motor and Sail, said he also received a last-minute invitation to sail HMS Pickle to Blyth for the Tall Ships Regatta this weekend.

Pickle will be docked in Hartlepool for guided tours tomorrow (Thurs) and Friday, and again on Monday, and in Blyth on Saturday and Sunday.

The ship is based in Humberside, where she has been docked since her restoration was complete last October, but she sailed up the coast to Hartlepool for a special visit.

This is only Pickle’s second public engagement since her lengthy restoration in Portugal, where Mr Nicholson lovingly restored her.

She was welcomed to Britain by the Royal Navy in Portsmouth and escorted to her new moorings at Hull Marina by a Royal Navy Patrol Vessel, HMS Explorer, RNLI and police launches, as well as Humber Rescue.

Mr Nicholson, who is a designer, engineer, restorer and ship wright with more than 30 year’s experience, said the purpose of his visit with Pickle was to engage the public with the British Maritime History of the Napoleonic period, and to forge closer links with HMS Trincomalee. He said: “I am the fourth generation of engineers in my family and I think that I owe it to all those who have gone before me to pass these skills on to future generations,” he said.