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Commemorating South Asian Heritage Month at the National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool

Date published 14/08/2023
Members of the Royal Navy’s Race Diversity Network with Principal Curator Clare Hunt alongside HMS Trincomalee

South East Asian Heritage Month takes place this year between July 17th and August 18th. Read on to find out more about the Royal Navy’s visit to HMS Trincomalee, linked to this important month, and the work of the National Museum of the Royal Navy to commemorate this event and beyond.

This week the National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool welcomed the Royal Navy Race Diversity Network. For South Asian Heritage Month, the team were taken on a tour of HMS Trincomalee and have been learning more about the rich history of South Asian Heritage in the Royal Navy. Clare Hunt, Principal Curator at the National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool, said “It was a great visit from the team, there was a huge amount of enthusiasm from everyone involved. Some of the Royal Navy Diversity Network were from the North East, so it was a great chance for people to learn about the diverse histories on their doorstep.” 

HMS Trincomalee is a key object in the collection when considering South Asian heritage. The ship was built in the Honourable East India Company's shipyard in Bombay (now Mumbai), by Indian shipbuilders, and is named after a city in Sri Lanka. The heritage of HMS Trincomalee is therefore an important link between India and the Royal Navy. To help visitors learn more about South Asian heritage there is a new section in our collections portal, with interesting artefacts related to this topic. 

The Royal Navy’s visit to HMS Trincomalee forms a longer commitment from the National Museum of the Royal Navy towards widening access to the collection and continuing to tell diverse and interesting stories. One of the key projects furthering this goal was with Chat Over Chai, a community group local to Portsmouth. They, alongside investigating the exciting painting ‘Appreciating the Situation’, looked at HMS Trincomalee and its links to India. The video produced from this work is accessible on YouTube. Members of Chat Over Chai, the Royal Navy Race Diversity Network and other key groups continue to be involved in this important work. 

Jack Kanani, Chair of the Royal Navy Race Diversity Network said “This was a hugely rewarding visit that marks part of our research to understand and highlight the historic links between the Royal Navy and its South Asian heritage. We value our relationship with the National Museum of the Royal Navy and are keen to recruit and collaborate with more volunteers and historians to help us on our journey to find and tell the diverse, humanist stories of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. Please reach out to us on X (Twitter) if you’re interested in getting involved.” 



If you enjoyed this video, you can see more on the National Museum of the Royal Navy’s YouTube page. Watch our short film on ‘International Day of Women and Girls in Science’ or discover other videos we filmed with Chat Over Chai.  

To find out information about visiting the ship please click here