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Home » News » Scale model of Darwin’s HMS Beagle goes on display at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery
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Scale model of Darwin’s HMS Beagle goes on display at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery

Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery is celebrating Charles Darwin's birthday with a new exhibit kindly donated by local model maker, Ron Batson.

Ron visited the Museum just after it moved to the Music Hall and offered to build a 1:64 scale model impression of HMS Beagle for the new Darwin display. The original Beagle was built in 1820 at Woolwich Dockyard in London.

In 1831 Charles Darwin left Shrewsbury for Plymouth aboard a stagecoach from the Lion Hotel to join one of the most important scientific expeditions in history. In Plymouth he joined the 85 man crew of HMS Beagle for a five-year surveying voyage to South America, New Zealand and Australia. His investigations during the journey would change science and the world forever.

Darwin wrote: "The voyage of the Beagle has been by far the most important event in my life and has determined my whole career; yet it depended on so small a circumstance as my uncle offering to drive me thirty miles to Shrewsbury… I owe to the voyage the first real training or education of my mind."

Phil Scoggins, interpretation officer at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, said:

"The stories our displays tell about Shropshire's history are always inspired by objects from our collection. Unfortunately, we have no objects that relate directly to Charles Darwin's life in Shrewsbury. Ron's generosity in both his time and in gifting us the finished model will hopefully help us explain Darwin's connection with the town for many years to come."

Emma-Kate Lanyon, curator of Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, said:

"Darwin intensively studied the geology, animals, plants and peoples of the lands he visited. From his cramped cabin below the rear deck, his analysis of these observations led him to believe that living things adapt and change over time. Ron's model really helps you appreciate the conditions he worked under as Darwin amassed his own floating museum filled with specimens and research work that would revolutionise our understanding of the natural world."

The model of HMS Beagle can be seen in The Shropshire Gallery.