National Historical Naval Museum

National Historical Naval Museum, Mahebourg, Mauritius
The well-planned wide streets in the old section of Mahébourg still bear testimony to this Dutch and French colonial past. After the French chose Port Louis as the main port Mahébourg declined into a sleepy coastal city. The past is still preserved today in the Historical Naval Museum which also recounts the epic naval battles of the past between the French Navy and the Royal Navy. The Dutch historical museum in Grand Port recounts the early Dutch settlement of the island.

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The National History Museum, situated at Mahébourg about 6 km from the Airport. It is at the southern outskirts of the village on the Mahebourg-Curepipe road. This marine museum exhibits documenting the Seekrieg mainly between France and England. Wreckage from the battle of 1810, a model of the "St. Géran "and the train, the 1864 to 1926 on the wrong island, are the attractions. Also: colonial furniture and cannons. In the garden a few workshops of artisans. The Museum is housed in a beautiful 17th Century French country house, which is listed as a National Monument.

The museum occupies three floors, tow of which are accessible to the public. On the ground floor wreckage of sailing ships that took part in the Grand Port battle, original cannon, cannonball, paintings and swords and weaponry of Robert Surcouf, the eighteenth-century corsair, popularly known as the king of the Corsairs.

Learn about the history of the colonial empire and see relics from the great naval Battle of Grand Port, fought between the French and the English over the possession of the island in 1810. Objects from shipwrecks along the Mauritian coast are showcased here, and the museum also displays a preserved Mauritian village settlement, where visitors can gain a glimpse of the typical lifestyle of the rural island inhabitants.

A large relief map shows the complicated reefs of Vieux Grand Port where the great battle took place. The bell, recovered from the wreckage of the St Geran which sunk off the east coast in 1744, is also on display. There is an interesting newspaper cutting of Charles Seabourne, who with survivors from the ship Trevessa, landed at Bel Ombre in the south in 1923 after spending 25 days at sea. On display are the ship's biscuits, a razor and the lid of a cigarette tin which they used to measure water rations. In a separate showcase is a Roll of Honour dedicated to Mauritians who died in World War II.

On the first floor are Labourdonnais' four-poster bed, two palanquins or wooden sedan-type chairs, which were borne by slaves to convey their masters through the country and a collection of coins, curios, model sailing ships and early maps, labelled in French and English.

Address:
National Historical Naval Museum
Royal Road, Mahebourg, South
Tel: (230) 631 9329.
Fax: (230) 212 5717
Hours: Mon, Wed-Sat : 9-16, Sun 9-12 clock, free admission

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