England is an island long protected by a navy with a fascinating history. Portsmouth Dockyard should be on everyone’s list of places to visit as it is probably the most interesting historical attraction in the United Kingdom and what’s more tremendous value for money.
On our visit in June 2017 a family ticket for 2 adults and up to 3 children was avaialbe on line for £60 which provides unlimited visits for 12 months. When you discover the number of individual attractions on offer then you will appreciate the value.
Starting at the ticket office the black hull of the warrior stands proud inviting you to stroll down the quay to explore the ship. The warrior is the first all steel warship built to counter the threat of the French ironclad Gloire launched in 1859 it immediately posed a significant threat to Britons naval supremacy causing the government to hastily commission the Warrior, the first iron hulled battleship to be powered by sail and steam. From her launch in 1860 she became the fastest and most feared ship in the world. For over 10 years she reigned supreme without firing a shot in anger before technology overtook her and her glory declined.
On Board you can discover how the crew lived, worked and entertained themselves during the hours at sea. Take note of the conditions, the amount of space and food enjoyed by the crew and compare this to the Victory, and Mary Rose as you step back in time to the days of Trafalgar, and Tudor England.
As you leave the exhibit you may like to take the harbour tour, (included in the ticket price) to discover how Portsmouth harbour has supported our navy both past and present. The tour gives you a great view of the Spinnaker Tower at Portsmouth Quays, Portsmouth latest landmark, with designer shopping outlets and Towers 170 metre viewing platform.
Returning to the dockyard you have a choice of museums located in the dockyard buildings, Although Children may prefer the interactive “action Stations” where they can take part in various simulations of some of the navy’s activities.
Most people however proceed down the dockyard to visit HMS Victory famous for the battle of Trafalgar, defeat of the French and the death of Admiral Nelson. The ship is a testament to the sailors how lived, worked and died in the preservation of our country, and provides a
flavour of the harsh conditions for the sailors onboard. Each visitor is provided with an audio guide (free of charge) which you activate at key points on each deck. As you sit in the dimly lit interior you get a flavour of the build up to battle, the noise and fear to which the men would have been subjected, and the appalling end many met in the bowels of the ship under the surgeon’s knife (no anesthetic in those days). The ship is truly a treasure protected by sprinklers following the Cutty Sark fire with luck and support this should be a treasure for generations to come.
Adjacent to the Victory you have the newly opened Mary Rose museum, King Henry the Eighths flag ship which sank in the Solent at the opening of the battle for England. (against the French! There’s a pattern here!) Raised in 1982 and after years of preservation the ship has finally been unveiled and brought back to life. After seeing many museums and attractions this must be one of the best in the world. The purpose-built building houses the remains of the ship in a huge gallery, viewing walkways run along the side for each deck of the ship. Video projections of activities can be seen to enable you to envisage the activities that would have been going on prior to the sinking.
Displayed on your right are the clothes, tools weapons and personal items of the crew displayed and perfectly preserved giving a fascinating insight into Tudor life. Staff are on
hand to provide greater detail and everyone we spoke to was enthusiastic and knowledgeable adding flavour to the experience. This museum has won numerous awards and is truly amazing, with hands on areas where you can experience the strength required to pull the famous English longbow, smell the tar of the ropes form the actual ship and pick up items handled by sailors in 1545.
As well as these three impressive ships, there is HMS M33, Nation museum of the royal navy, Boathouse 4, Jutland 1916, Explosive museum of firepower and the Royal Nay’s submarine museum at Gosport where you can board the HMS alliance and see how submariners lived worked and tried to survive in the dangerous arm of the Navy.
This is a recommended must-see destination for young and old in the UK and you can see why it deserves all the awards it has received. It is a remarkable achievement in preservation and a true testimony to the brave people of the armed services who have served, fought and died for this country against overwhelming odds.