H.M.S. Powerful - A Naval Rating’s Lloyd's of London Silver Presentation Tobacco Box, 1899.
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Diameter: 7.5cm (3in)
Silver. Circular form as presented to the ship’s company of H.M.S. Powerful on return from the Boer War, the hinged spring lid engraved with the arms of Lloyd's Corporation and inscribed 'LLOYD'S 7TH MAY 1900'.
In the autumn of 1899 the cruiser H.M.S. Powerful was returning home from China when she was diverted to South Africa where war was imminent. She originally docked at Simonstown where members of the crew practised drill and gunnery practice. Marines were landed further up the coast with orders to defend Stormberg, and later faced the Boers at Graspan where they lost half their number. A separate naval brigade from Powerful landed at Durban on 27 October 1899 with a battery of heavy guns including their famous 4.7s. They made their way towards Ladysmith where the Powerful's Captain, the Hon. Hedworth Lambton controlled Naval operations during the relief of the town; the 4.7s having an important impact on the outcome. For their contribution in South Africa the men of H.M.S. Powerful were feted at Portsmouth on their return, and summoned to an inspection by the Prince of Wales and the Lords of the Admiralty in London before a celebratory feast at Lloyd’s on Bank Holiday Monday 7 May 1900.
A Lloyd’s underwriter recorded: ‘Lloyds entertained the men to lunch in the Old Reading Room in the Royal Exchange. Lloyd's was of course closed for the day. The men arrived about noon with their guns, and the string band of the Royal Artillery played in the quadrangle of the Royal Exchange. Tables were laid the whole length of the Room, tastefully decorated with flowers, and the men sat down to a gargantuan feast. The waiters were the Members of Lloyd's, and I was one with others engaged in drawing beer as fast as we could to quench the men's everlasting thirst. After the meal, the sailors were presented with silver boxes filled with tobacco. It certainly was a wonderful and memorable day’.