We found several of these within the hull of the wreck of the Invincible. Used for scrubbing the deck they were constructed in two parts, the 'head' of the brush and the 'Bristle board'.

All of these were made of beech wood and each had the government 'broad arrow' inscribed on them. The sizes were very consistent at 290 x 133 x 90mm thick. At right is an image of a deck brush showing the top side of the head with the bristle side of the bristle board. Even after more than 200 years on the seabed, the combined weight of this one after drying and conservation was 2.32 kg.


The bristle boards were separate items and were without doubt, most interesting in the manner in which they were secured into the board.

Each board had 288 (12 across x 24 along the length) tapered holes drilled through to allow for the bristles to be secured in place. The bristles were identified as 'Badger' hair. Bristles were made into equal diameter bunches (rather like a round artists brush today). The end of a long length of fine copper wire was made into a loop and passed through the tapered hole from the smallest diameter side.


The bunch of Badger bristles would then be pushed half way through the wire loop and the wire pulled tight from the back of the board thus 'securing' tightly the bristles into the tapered hole. The continuous wire was then passed through the next hole making another 'loop' and another bunch of bristles passed through before being pulled tight into the taper.

Using one continuous piece of copper wire, the procedure carried on until all of the 'Bristle Holes' in the board were full. Finally, the wire was nailed tight and the bristles were trimmed to an even length of 7/16 inch (11mm).

This must have been an extremely time consuming process

Instead of having to keep lots of complete brushes on board, it was only necessary to have a small number of heads and keep plenty of spare bristle boards which also saved space for storage. Bristle boards were secured to the heads by simply nailing them using three nails at each end.

Recycling - in those days, when a deck brush wore out through constant everyday use, rather than throwing away the complete broom you simply removed the bristle board and nailed a new one in place. They only discarded the bristles and not the whole broom, as we do nowadays.