The Olympias during sea trials

The Trireme Trust

The Trireme Trust was set up in 1982 by the historian and academic, John Morrison, naval architect, John Coates, and writer Frank Welsh to investigate a centuries-old controversy about the nature of the trireme, the most important warship of the ancient Mediterranean world. Their collaboration resulted in the building and launch in 1987 by the Hellenic Navy of a full-scale reconstruction, the Olympias, powered in accordance with the ancient evidence by 170 oars arranged over three levels. A series of six sea-trials between 1987 and 1994 demonstrated that the ship could be rowed efficiently and fast, despite almost universal academic opinion that a three-level arrangement of oars was wholly impracticable. A full-scale, sit-on model of the reconstructed oar system was featured in the Transport section of the Millennium Dome exhibition in 2000, and similar models are currently on display in both the Henley River and Rowing Museum and the Manchester University Museum. In 2004, the ship itself was used to carry the Olympic flame across Piraeus harbour shortly before the opening of the Athens Olympic Games. Since 1994, the Trireme Trust has been dedicated to disseminating information about the ship as widely as possible, through publications, lectures to schools and historical/archaeological societies, supply of photographic images, and television and press interviews, and to carrying out further research based on the sea-trials.

The Trireme Trust archive moves to a new home

The Trireme Trust archive includes all the relevant correspondence, design notes, construction drawings and sea trials documentation relating to the Olympias project.

Ten years ago, the Trust's papers, including John Coates' original plans, were archived and catalogued, and until recently have generously been lodged in the River and Rowing Museum at Henley-on-Thames. In order to secure long term access to these valuable records and documents, the entire archive has now been transferred in perpetuity to Wolfson College, Cambridge, where John Morrison was founding President.

All enquiries should now be addressed to: -
College Archivist
Wolfson College
Barton Rd
Cambridge CB3 9BB