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Captain Kidd and Execution Dock

Captain Kidd, the pirate, was hanged at Execution Dock on the north bank of the Thames. The exact spot lies a mile downstream from the Tower of London on a bend of the river at Wapping. Today the riverside pub called 'The Captain Kidd' overlooks the original site of the gallows.

Captain Kidd

Howard Pyle, unknown
© National Maritime Museum, London

Execution Dock

Page Dodd, unknown
© National Maritime Museum, London

Grace Darling and Trinity House

From its premises at Trinity Square near the Tower of London, Trinity House provides aids to general navigation. Its lighthouses, lightvessels and buoys mark some of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. Today, its lighthouses are all automated, but in the past they were manned by lighthouse keepers and their families. Perhaps the most famous Trinity House family was at the Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands off Northumbria, where Grace Darling lived.

Grace Darling

Rogerson & Tuxford, 1852
© National Maritime Museum, London

Trinity House

Unknown, c. 1793-6
© National Maritime Museum, London

John Flamsteed and Royal Observatory Greenwich

The Royal Observatory was founded on 22 June 1675 by Charles II specifically to solve the greatest scientific puzzle of the age - 'the longitude problem', or how to find accurate position at sea where there are no fixed landmarks by which to navigate. The King, a great patron of science, learnt that accurate maps of the stars and Moon could help solve this and make other navigational improvements. In 1675, he appointed John Flamsteed the first Astronomer Royal at Greenwich, to compile these charts.

John Flamsteed

Thomas Gibson [artist]; George Vertue [engraver], 1721
© National Maritime Museum, London

Royal Observatory Greenwich

Unknown, c. 1900
© National Maritime Museum, London

I K Brunel and Thames Tunnel

In 1823 Brunel went to work with his father on the building of the Thames Tunnel at Rotherhithe. He was later to be appointed as a resident engineer at the site. It was the first tunnel under the Thames. Today it is used by the London Underground for the East London Line.

I K Brunel

Robert Howlett 1831-58, 1858
© National Maritime Museum, London

Thames Tunnel

Unknown, c.1843
© National Maritime Museum, London

Lord Nelson and Royal Naval College

From Sunday 5 January to Tuesday 7 January 1806, Nelson’s coffin lay in state in the Painted Hall at Greenwich Hospital (which later became the Royal Naval College), the famous institution for elderly and invalid seamen on the south bank of the River Thames. Black hangings covered the vivid wall paintings, which gave the hall its name; brightly coloured heraldic devices gleamed in the rich glow from hundreds of candles in special wall sconces. The coffin itself was surrounded with trophies, including captured French and Spanish flags.

Lord Nelson

Lemuel Francis Abbot (1760-1803), 1800
© National Maritime Museum, London

Royal Naval College

Unknown, Unknown
© National Maritime Museum

Sir Francis Drake and Deptford Dockyard

Elizabeth I knighted Francis Drake in Deptford Dockyard in 1581. He had just returned from the great circumnavigation of the globe and she visited his ship, 'The Golden Hind', to perform the ceremony.

Sir Francis Drake

Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger, 1591
© National Maritime Museum, London

Deptford Dockyard

Joseph Farington, 18th Century
© Greenwich Hospital Collection.

National Maritime Museum/Royal Observatory GreenwichNew Opportunities Fund