Warrior was different from the sailing warships of the previous four centuries - like Mary Rose and Victory - in having one long stable gun deck rather than several stacked gun decks. Six hundred men lived here, divided into 34 messes, each with up to 18 men squashed into the space between two guns. They crammed around the simple mess table at mealtimes and at night slung their hammocks above. They were allowed small ditty bags or boxes containing day-to-day possessions. Despite the sometimes rigorous conditions, off-watch the crews' leisure time was spent singing, talking, playing cards, sewing and writing letters home. Some had musical instruments; others had pets such as parrots.

The contrast between the social life of the crew and officers is evident. The Captain's cabin, with its rich décor and fine furniture, was very like the Victorian drawing room. Officers had individual cabins, which they adorned with personal possessions such as fishing rods, books and photographs. The Wardroom table is still magnificently set for formal dinner, gleaming with silver, crystal and embossed fine bone china.

The Admiralty classification of ships was regulated by armament and Warrior, officially a third-rate frigate, would normally carry a crew of 300. However, when she set sail on her first commission, Warrior had a crew of approximately 700.

The ship herself may have been revolutionary, but the day to day lives of her crew differed little from service in the great wooden warships. Manpower was still essential.

To many on board it must have seemed, as it did to those at home, that Warrior's career would go on forever.

Old Warriors - If you are related to someone who served in the ship during her history we would be grateful if you could offer any information for our growing Genealogical Archive. More information

You can trace today's Naval command system back to Warrior and beyond.

The Captain was the ship's undisputed ruler, answerable to the Admiralty for everybody and everything on board.

His comfortable quarters were at the aft end of the main deck. They comprised day and sleeping cabins. He also had private heads (toilet), a personal steward who worked from a nearby pantry. Beyond his quarters were the rudder yoke and propeller well.

Number two was the Commander, who was responsible for the ship's day to day routines, fighting capability and general appearance. He was also Wardroom Mess President. His quarters were next to the Captain's as were those of the Master. His title was a throwback to when merchant ships and their masters were commandeered for naval use.

The Captain could only enter the wardroom by invitation of the other officers. The wardroom was their mess. It was on the lower deck, with their 14 cabins, 6 feet by 10 feet, arranged around a central dining and leisure area.

With the Royal Navy's new professional status some of the younger wardroom members would have graduated from the officer training school on Illustrious or later Britannia.

The ship's chaplain was also the schoolmaster, teaching the ordinary crew and the junior ranks comprising 20 to 30 midshipmen and sub-lieutenants. These very young officers led a less formal life in the gunroom - their lower deck mess - where the chief gunner was in charge of the midshipmen. They slept in hammocks.

Also sharing the lower deck were the engineers, the boatswain, gunner, shipwright (carpenter) and chief petty officers, all of whom had cabins and messes.

HMS Warrior Men HMS Warrior Men

If you wanted to serve on board Warrior, you needed brawn rather than brain. 600 of the 700 men aboard had tough physical jobs. The ship herself may have been revolutionary, but the day to day lives of her crew differed little from service in the great wooden warships.

The average sailor manned the guns, hoisted the sails, turned capstans, hauled on ropes, lifted and lowered boats, pulled on oars and cranked the massive pumps that moved water around the ship. "Knowing the ropes" was more than an idle phrase to the men who worked 180 feet up in the rigging day and night.

A large number of the crew helped raise the ship's four anchors located at the bow and stern. Each weighed 5.6 tons, the heaviest ever in maritime history to be operated manually. Over 100 men hauled one anchor up at a time through linked capstans with its chain fed into cable lockers amidships to keep the ship balanced.

The crew slept in hammocks slung above the guns, and lived and ate in messes between the guns. The lot of the Jack Tar was improving. Press gangs had been abolished. Instead, seamen would be recruited for a fixed period and could then re - enlist or take a pension.

Uniforms had been introduced in 1859, the year before Warrior's launch. The dress depended on the job and the time of day or week. The normal outfits comprised dark blue jumpers and white trousers. All white outfits were worn for drills.

Stokers wore white suits of duck - a material similar to canvas, all the time and on Sundays, hats - black in winter and white in summer - were compulsory except in wet weather.

Clothes were issued monthly from the Paymaster and the cost of the uniform deducted from the seaman's wages. Hat ribbons were offered at a cost of 1 shilling each, a day's wages to a second class ordinary seaman. The Paymaster was a key figure on the ship. He controlled the victualling, clothes and pay from his lower deck office.

Pay parade was monthly and formal. Off-watch seamen reported to the pay office and, at the command, a seaman took off his hat so that his wages could be put in it. Pay levels ranged from the Captain's £1 a day to the sixpence (2.5p) paid to a Boy Second Class.