HMS Unicorn was built in peacetime at Chatham Dockyard, Kent and launched in 1824. A superstructure was built over her main deck and she was laid up "in ordinary", serving as a hulk and a depot ship for most of the next 140 years. Her lack of active duty left her timbers well preserved, and in the 1960s steps were initiated to convert her to a museum ship.
Close-up view of the unicorn sculpture at the bowsprit.
Though steps were taken to restore Unicorn[n 1] to a similar condition as her sister ship HMS Trincomalee, this plan has been changed. It was discovered that the ship was the only example of a wooden frigate of her type existing in ordinary, and as a result the intention is now to preserve her in her current condition.
Unicorn was never rigged, and only went to sea for the voyage from Chatham to Dundee, during which she was under tow. It is thought the roof that covers her upper deck has never been replaced.