A TWO-DAY festival to celebrate the 200th anniversary of HMS Beagle will be supported with £50,000 from Rochford Council, if approved.

More than 2,000 people are expected to attend the festival to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the launch of HMS Beagle in 1820.

The Beagle famously sailed around the world with naturalist, Charles Darwin, between 1831 and 1836, visiting sites like the Galapagos Islands and the Great Barrier Reef. The rich variety of animal and plant species that Darwin saw on the voyage led him to develop his theory of evolution.

The Beagle ended her illustrious career in the estuary mud of the River Roach.

Now the RSPB and Rochford District Council are working together to create an event at Wallasea Island.

Council leader, Mike Steptoe, said: “I think it’s a fantastic opportunity. Darwin’s ship ended up as a customs hulk in the Rover at Paglesham where the location of the remains are.

“There are lots of stories of timber in people’s houses coming from the Beagle. I think a lot of timbers survived but in people’s houses.

“This is going to very interesting as it is a very significant ship.”

There will be a number of attractions over the two days so visitors can learn more about HMS Beagle’s history; her role in combatting smuggling on the Essex coast, and her lasting legacy in the fields of science and engineering. A 90ft observation platform will be built to replicate the length of HMS Beagle and give visitors a sense of scale.

A spokesman for Rochford Council said: “The Discover 2020 Festival will navigate the rich heritage of the whole of Rochford district to explore, chronicle and celebrate its vivid history.”

A number of outdoor attractions are also planned, including the creation of a computer-generated 3D image of HMS Beagle which can be viewed via smartphone or tablet and which will enable visitors to visualise how the ship would have looked moored in the River Roach.

There will be guided tours of the nature reserve led by RSPB with special “young explorer” events for children and “community plays” performed by the University of Essex’s E15 Stage School across the site;

An outdoor cinema will display digital footage and there will be a display of a rigid inflatable boat by Essex Police marine unit and border Border Force, along with an array of food and drink vendors.