This summer I had long holiday in China, so I could not afford another one in the UK financially speaking. However I was desperate for a break to cheer me up. Inspired by one of my friends I decided to visit Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
Brief information about Portsmouth Historic Dockyard:
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is a great place to experience 800 years of British naval history. Back to 1194 King Richard I started to construct the dockyards. In 1495 Henry VII ordered the construction of the world's first dry dock around which Henry VIII built a fleet construction centre as well as the famous Mary Rose. In 1670 the Royal Navy was formed and the docks then became the Royal Dockyard. Consequently it grew to be the largest industrial complex in the world and played a very important role in the industrial revolution in 19th century as well as in both world wars.
Today it is the most visited attraction in the South of England and an important part of Portsmouth. The visits to these attraction have been divided into six areas: HMS Victory, HMS Warrior 1860, Mary Rose Museum, Royal Naval Museum, Harbour Tour and Action Stations. You can pay for the attractions separately. You can also purchase an all inclusive ticket that allows you to visit all. Currently it is £19.50 for an adult and £16.50 for a senior citizen and children. One thing to bear in mind is all inclusive ticket only allows you to have unlimited admission to HMS Warrior 1860, Action Stations, Dockyard Apprentice and Royal Naval Museum.
As I know it would be a long day I arrived the visitor centre by 11am. There was a long queue, but just two staff served us. Waiting for about 10 minutes I got my passport. Because the entrance to HMS Warrior 1860 is just set inside the centre I decided to pop over the ship first.
HMS Warrior 1860
ID: The only surviving member of Queen Victoria's Black Battle Fleet.
My first impression on HMS Warrior is that the ship is really huge. In fact when it was originally built in 1860 it was largest, fastest and more power warship in the world. As the world's first iron-hulled, armoured warship powered by steam and constructed of wrought iron, it became the ultimate deterrent, although it never once fired a shot in anger.
When I was onboard I was surprised with the spaciousness of the Upper Deck. Walking from one side to the other side I felt like on a busy street. So many things to see and the views are so beautiful, last but not least you can see how it would have been when it was a warship. That said it cost £8 million, the most complex and costly ship restoration ever attempted, to restore its original condition.
It was my first experience with a warship, so everything was new and interesting to me. I burned with curiosity over what was inside the ship. There are four decks: upper deck, main/gun deck, lower deck and boiler & engine rooms. At the upper deck you can see the 26-ton propeller which could be raised via a well in the stern. This operation may well have required up to 400 of the crew to achieve. At the main/gun deck, the heart of the ship, you can see over 30 guns enclosed within the armoured citadel. I was told only 2 guns among them are original, however I didn't have enough time to figure out. 36 messes for 655 men or ratings were arranged between the guns. Approximately 18 men were detailed to each mess, where they ate, slept and relaxed. In the centre there was a galley where food were prepared for all the crew, including the officer.
Walking forward to the back of the deck, first I came across the Master's cabin, who was in charge of sailing and navigation. Next it is Captain's cabins. Warrior's first captain was the Honourable Arthur Cochrane. I saw his day cabin which is furnished in the style of a drawing room of the period, sleeping quarters, his own toilet and a walking area. The cabin on the other side belonged to the Commander who was the Captain's number two and responsible for the ship's fighting ability and appearance.
The lower deck which is full of the tag of the sea air was mainly used for the crew and other lower officers as a central dinning and relaxation area. There are two parts of the deck were more interesting to me. One is the cells that was used for seamen who committed serious crimes, such as absence over leave, sleeping on watch, etc; another one is the issue room that was for issuing each sailor's food allowance on. The boiler & engine room is in the lowest deck. As I mentioned earlier HMS Warrior 1860 was a pioneer steam ship, so you can see many boilers at either side of the hull. However the work condition here was really dreadful. Warrior's stokers and trimmers would spend hours each day shovelling coal and ash by hand in the temperatures that could reach over 48.9 degC. It reminded me of a film named The Legend Of 1900. Luckily they got paid 25% more than able seamen.
It was at midday. I spent approximately 1 hour on HMS Warrior 1860 and felt a bit tired. I decided to take the harbour tour next as I can sit on a seat for a break. Also the weather was not good, so I wanted to finish the tour before the shower or rain. However the next boat would start at 1pm, so I took the chance to have a quick visit to the Action Stations.
Before you walk close to the Action Stations you will have to pass a bridge. It is at Boathouse No 6, which was built in 1846. There is a reception to check visitor's ticket. The idea of the Action Station is to bring the modern Royal Navy directly to their visitors with computer games, short films, physical activities and technological experiments. I have tried some games and found it's not very appealing to me. Because I don't play computer games, so at beginning I even felt a little difficult to pass. I also was on aboard of a helicopter simulator in which you can fly a Merlin for three minutes. However I was not very impressive with it except felt a little uncomfortable. I think the Action Stations is more suitable with kids, especially who are interested in fighting games. After realizing it I left the station for the Harbour Tour.
When I arrived the Harbour it was ten to 1pm, there was a long queue. However I was lucky to sit on the top lever as the boat can contain over 250 passengers. The Harbour Tour is a 45 minute tour around Portsmouth Harbour. There is a guide providing the information of the ships that you are passing. That includes warships and commercial ships too. Although I didn't totally understand what he said I still enjoyed the views along the harbour. Also I can imagine what would be like inside these modern warships based on the pictures I got from HMS Warrior 1860. The only problem is I felt HMS Warrior 1860 is not as huge as I first saw it.
Before the tour finishes the boat has a short stop at the Gunwharf Quays where you can get off here and pop to the shopping centre. It's also available for people to take the ride to the dockyard. By the way there is a licensed bar on board which also sells snacks.
It's really an enjoyable tour especially if the weather is good. I was not lucky as at the end of my tour the rain was coming. So without taking any picture of the boat I rushed to Mary Rose Museum.
Mary Rose Museum
ID: The only surviving 16th century warship.
The Museum is at No 5 Boathouse and is just at the right side of Victory Gate, the main entrance of the dockyard. There is a life-size statue of Henry VIII outside, so it's hard to miss.
Entering the Museum first you will see another life-size statue of Henry VIII and read a brief information about him and his ship of Mary Rose. Henry VIII was born in Greenwich in 1491 and became King in 1509 when he was 18 years old. During his life he was married six times. The first wife was divorced, the second one is Anne Boleyn who was beheaded, the third one was died, the fourth was divorced, the fifth was beheaded and the sixth was survived. In 1547 Henry VIII died at the age of 55.
The Mary Rose was built between 1509 and 511 and one of the first ships able to fire a broadside. It was a firm favourite of King Henry VIII and he almost certainly paid for it from his private purses. The ship is said to be named after Mary his favourite sister and Rose after the Tudor emblem, although there may also be a religious connections. Henry VIII witnessed the tragic sinking of the Mary Rose in July 1545 when it was in battle against the French. After the battle Henry VIII tried to recover the ship, but failed. Time moved on, and technology improved. In October 1982 the worlds largest water excavation began after it was raised to the surface.
Mary Rose Museum contains 20,000 artefacts found in the wreck. Those show the life in the Tudor period, particularly the nautical life in warships. There are interesting articles in the museum about these various artefacts, such as tools, guns, woods, etc. A dog's skeleton was particularly impressive to me. The Mary Rose dog may have been a Manchester Terrier, or Black and Tan Terrier as it was originally known. This breed dates back to the 1400s and is said to be the oldest English Terrier. Another interesting area is the replica of the Barber Surgeons Cabin. Also opposite the Cabin there is a cabinet containing the tools used by him, such as razor, medical jars, syringes, etc. Next to the cabinet there is a big area displaying the weapons in the wreck. There is a short film telling you how to fire the guns. Personally I found it interesting and educational. To be honest I was not very sure how the guns worked before seeing the film. You can also try to handle some weapons and try on an armour that is meant for the kids, but quite heavy. Last but not least don't forget to watch the story of raising the ship and how it sank in an audio visual theatre next to the reception.
The only imperfect thing is you can't see the Mary Rose now. Before visitors were available to see the Mary Rose from a viewing gallery. Now it's temporarily closed from public view, as part of the £35 million project to build a new state-of-the-art combined ship hall and museum by the Mary Rose Trust.
On my way towards HMS Victory I stopped at Boathouse No. 7. It is a newly refurbished restaurant where you can eat and drink. There is a boat hanging on the high ceiling that I was mostly impressed. However I had no much time to appreciate the relax atmosphere as I was in a hurry to my last destination: HMS Victory.
ID: the oldest commissioned warship in the world.
HMS Victory is the oldest commissioned warship in the world and the sixth ship to bear the name. HMS Victory is the flagship of the Commander in Chief Naval Home Command. However HMS Victory is well known for being the flagship of Horatio Nelson in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
HMS Victory was designed by Thomas Slade and commissioned in 1778, remaining in active service until 1812. HMS Victory was built at Chatham Dockyard in Kent and now lives in No 2 Dry Dock, appeared as at the Battle of Trafalgar 21st October 1805.
When you take the tour around HMS Victory you will be given an introduction leaflet that spot the tour highlights. Also there are knowledgeable guides around HMS Victory to answer your questions.
My first impression of HMS Victory was like to meet a mysterious lady. I was surprised to see the main colours of HMS Victory: dull black and yellow ochre. I think it is very stylish even at today.
One of the tour highlights is the Great Cabin, also known as Admiral's Cabin, where the admiral lived and would have conducted his day to day work; where the Admiral entertained his senior officers; where Nelson planned the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Today Admiral's Cabin remains in use as it always has been. Admiral's Cabin is divided into four compartments and the splendour of the Admiral's cabin contrasts sharply with the living conditions of HMS Warrior 1860, not to mention the ordinary seamen on board Victory.
The centre of the Admiral's cabin is a round table that was part of Admiral Lord Nelson's personal furniture; it is reputed, that Nelson wrote his final prayer at this table the evening before the Battle of Trafalgar. The dining table and chairs could be folded away in times of battle and guns could be positioned. In action, even the Admiral's cabin became part of the gun decks.
The Admiral had his own night cabin by the great day cabin and dining room. You can see Admiral Nelson's swinging cot here, with replicas of the hangings made for him by Emma, Lady Hamilton.
Up on the Quarter Deck you can see a spot marked by the brass plaque to show where a musket ball from the French ship 'Redoubtable' fatally wounded Nelson at approximately 1-15pm.
On the Upper Gun Deck you can see the main working area of HMS Victory. On either side of this deck you can see the ship's heaviest armament of two 68lb carronades, which caused the most structural damage. Towards the rear of the deck is the belfry housing the ship's bell which was struck every half-hour governing the sailor's day. In the centre is the galley chimney. You can also see Leg Irons, which was used to flog the men that were to be punished.
Down to Middle Gun Deck there is an original 24Ib gun of the Trafalgar period. A fully trained British gun crew could fire this gun at a rate of 1 round every one and half minutes. Opposite this gun is the ship's galley where food was cooked for all 850 crew. However at the battle of Trafalgar there were 821 crew on HMS Victory. By the way the marines and ship's officers lived on this deck. No surprise the seamen lived on a further low deck: Lower Gun Deck.
The oak deck planking on Lower Gun Deck is original from 1765 when HMS Victory was launched. Up to 500 seamen would have lived on Lower Gun Deck and slept in their hammocks at night as well as worked in during the battle. It's interesting to know what they eat and drink. The main meal of the day was dinner, that usually comprised of a stew of salt beef or pork and occasionally fish, which was accompanied by dried peas, beans or lentils. Owing to drinking water being scarce and of poor quality, beer, wine, grog or bandy was issued to the men to drink. At the bottom of HMS Victory I saw their storage compartment for food including the drinks.
Moving my steps I had a quick look at the Grand Magazine, that was the ship's main magazine and occupied the fore part of HMS Victory. This was originally entered through a single hatchway via a complex of lead lined passages from the deck above; The hold, the largest single storage compartment on board, could contain enough provisions for six months when fully stored; At the front and rear of the Shot Lockers I saw 80 tons of shot was stored to supply the guns.
Without noticing I came across the Orlop Deck, that is below the water line and safe from enemy gunfire. It was here the surgeon would tend the wounded during action. When Nelson was wounded he was taken down to the Orlop Deck. Although I know I would see the place where he died before my visiting, I still felt sad while I saw Nelson Memorial and the painting The Death of Nelson by Arthur Devis in 1806.
Due the time limit I have not visited Royal Naval Museum, Trafalgar Sail, Dockyard Apprentice. However it doesn't matter as I can go back whenever I like as long as I keep hold of my ticket within one year. The Dockyard is open every day (except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). The are several places to eat and drink, also a few shops for gifts.
I would recommend anybody to visit Portsmouth Historic Dockyard as it is a very interesting place to see British naval history. There are many things to do at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and Portsmouth.
for more pictures please visit my blog: http://blossom-iwanttoseetheworld.blogspot.com/
It's impossible to understate the importance of Portsmouth in the history of the United Kingdom. Perhaps not so much in modern times at a time when recent governments have been slashing the Royal Navy to the bare bones but there was a time a good century ago when the culture of the Navy was the very embodiment of all things British.
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is a trip through 450 years of British Naval History. I booked my e-ticket online for £19.50 in advance and this gives access to a variety of attractions.
Old ships HMS Victory & HMS Warrior are visitor attractions on their own. HMS Warrior, the ironclad is perhaps overshadowed by Nelsons old ship HMS Victory but it shouldn't be because it was the largest ship in the world at one point. Both ships can easily take a couple of hours to get round if you are into your history. You can tell HMS Warrior is the more modern ship because it has far greater access - I challenge you not to bump your head at least once on your visit to the Victory! Standing on the spot where Nelson was shot did give me a tingle up the back of the spine.
At the time of writing the Mary Rose is closed to the public (though you can still go to the Museum) It is scheduled to repopen in 2012.
These 3 ships form the major attractions for any visitor but I actually loved two other sections of the Dockyard. Firstly in a dark air conditioned room the original Victory sail full of pockmarks is laid out on the floor for viewing. I loved the atmosphere in this room, almost deadly silence with people taken aback at the actual size of it.
Finally, included in the price of the ticket is a boat tour of Portsmouth Dockyard where you can see some modern Navy ships. Lasts about 40 minutes and includes some fun commentary. Just don't expect to see any aircraft carriers for the next decade!
Certainly plan for a full days outing, I got the at half past ten and left shortly before 5pm. One word of advice, if you are hungry leave the Dockyard and find somewhere to eat nearby, catering prices are ridiculous (you can wander back in at any time, its free to walk around the dockyard)
In summary 5 top attractions and a days entertainment for less than £20. Top Notch!
Our visit to the Historical Dockyard Museum came about, because we once owned a 70-year-old World War Two RAF air sea rescue boat and as a consequent joined an organisation The British Military Powerboat Trust (BMPT). This organisation was formed in 1999, with an object of creating a centre for the restoration of military powerboats. For six years volunteers worked on a number of found national treasures, but unfortunately, due to financial reasons and the site they were working at had a change of ownership, the Trust could no longer continue. After negotiations two of the restored military boats were moved to the Historical Dockyard. Our membership then transferred to the Friends of the Royal Naval Museum.
The Dockyard is now home to one particular boat a 41.5ft Seaplane Tender built around October 1941. The service RAF service no is 1502 and can be seen clearly on the bow of the boat. The story of this Seaplane Tender is an interesting one. It was part of the wartime production of the British Power Boat Company in Hythe and Poole in Dorset. The British Power Boat Company's owner Hubert Scott-Paine saw the potential for his boats in the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy. In the 1930 he was helped by the legendary T.E.Shaw (Lawrence of Arabia), who played an important part in persuading the Royal Navy to accept Scott-Paine's concept of a fast lightweight motor torpedo boat.
There is plenty see and do in the Dockyard, the HMS Victory, known as the ship that Lord Nelson died upon during the battle of Trafalgar, the 1860 HMS Warrior, the Mary Rose Museum and Harbour Tours.
The purpose of membership of the Friends is to assist and support the Museum and learn more about the Royal Navy's history. The membership brings privileges of free admission and discounts to many parts of the Museums and the Dockyard. To join membership costs £15 annually single or £20 annually joint.
We live several hundred miles from Portsmouth and we made a weekend of it staying at a Hotel. There is a good choice in and around the area.
After reading some of the reviews already written, they go into lots of great detail so I won't repeat whats been said, however I thought I'd write a review after recently visiting as there have been some changes..
I purchased an All Inclusive Gift Aid ticket for £19.50 from the historic dockyard website. However after purchasing I then discovered www.visitportsmouth.co.uk who give a 10% discount on the usual price so I'll remember them for future!
I purchased my ticket in advance so I received a barcoded printout which I took to the ladies at the ticket desk in the dockyard who exchanged for tickets and I was not required to queue...great start!
So, whats at the dockyard? Lots!
Royal Naval Museum
Mary Rose Museum
However I suggest you check out the website www.historicdockyard.co.uk for more up to date information
Unfortunately when I visited in April 2010 the Mary Rose was no longer available for viewing as they are currently building a new boat shaped museum as part of a £35 million heritage project. However the good news is that she will be back for viewing in 2012...
The all inclusive ticket allows you access only once to the HMS Warrior and HMS Victory and allows one Harbour Trip. However the ticket is valid for 12 months from the date of issue so you can revisit the other attractions as many times as you like.
It is also worth noting that you don't have to pay to get into the dockyard, you only pay for the attractions so you could just wander in and have a look round at what is there without parting with any cash..
We went into the Georgian Tea Rooms which was very expensive (£4.75 for a tea and scone) and we did notice several people walk in, clock the prices and then walk out!
Next to the Tea Rooms was an antique shop which was huge and a real Aladdins Cave...if you like routing through 'stuff' then you will love this... as you can imagine most of it is linked to the Military but there are a few things which aren't....
The other good thing about this was that as I had booked online, I received a survey from the historic dockyard requesting feedback (needless to say I mentioned about the tea room prices) which I think was great....
We arrived at 10:15 and left at 4:30 and we still hadn't seen the Mary Rose Museum so it's definitely a full day out. On the day that we went there was also a show of Porsche cars for the day so an extra treat for the men! They do have events on throughout the year so I would recommende checking out their website before you book a trip.
I've given seperate reviews for the different attractions which are listed on dooyoo in case you want more information....
Portesmouth Historic dockyard is well wirth a visit with the family. You can catch a train up from the South West UK stopping off at Gun Wharf Quays shopping centre, the dockyard is a short walk up the road. The first thing you notice as you approach the yard are the tall ships of the Victory, Portsmouth is famous because of HMS Victory. This was Nelson's flag ship which fought in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. There are many other boat's to be seen in this historic dockyard which I will describe.
Theres many flagstones in the dockyard so its very uneven for wheel & pushchairs, theres ramps to be used which isnt a bad thing. The way in has two gold balls on the top, nearby is the busy harbour where P&O ferries can be seen cruising up and down the water. You can also see the ferry for the Isle of Wight & a few battle ships in dock. On entering the dockyard there is a reception area where you can get your tickets. You can buy tickets which will last you for a year, so any of the museums you dont get round to seeing can be visited at a later date. These cost £15.50 per adult, & £12.50 for children & OAPs. Family tickets for a year are £45. For two years (Season Ticket), it will cost about £28 adults, £23.00 for children and OAPs. Families are £85.
Action Stations is one of the first places to visit. On the day we went it was closed as it was being used for a conference. This facility shows you how the Navy works; you can see the RN fleet pictured through two-dimensional profiled metal ships. Theres also a climbing wall which you can try, it slides upwards while you hold on for dear life; theres a soft mat to fall on if you come off. Theres a 275 seated cinema which has one of the biggest film screens in this part of England, here you can watch the Navy in action blowing each other up! Theres also many interactive games to play to see if you have the skills for joining the Navy, theres a flight helicopter deck, the Operations Room and many other things.
HMS Warrior pride of Queen Victoria is one of the last surviving iron clad ships made by Isembard kingdom Brunel. If you don't know who he is, he was the designer of the Clifton suspension bridge in Bristol. She joined the fleet in 1860 as part of Britain's answer to a troubled peace with France - & worries over French naval plans. Warrior could be driven by both steam & sail, her crew were about 700 men, they were:
3 warrant officers
455 seaman and boys
3 Royal Marine officers
6 Royal Marine NCOs
118 Royal Marine artillerymen
2 chief engineers
66 stokers and trimmers
Open from 10am - 5pm. When you arrive at Warrior there's a long ramp which goes up to the deck, wheelchairs can access this but it can be a steep push up. Once on board there's a chairlift operated by a member of staff, something I think the original crew would have liked; although my gran had one fitted in her flat which tossed here out! The stairs are quite steep & you are reminded of being on Victory, until the tannoy goes off in your ear that is; I believe there's a fire alarm as well. You can explore the boat at your own pleasure, or hire a red telephone thingy which gives a commentary. There are staff to help if you need anything, the ship can also be hired out for weddings, sea shanty nights etc; there was an Indian wedding on board that evening. There are replica rifles & hand guns which look really genuine, the cooking facilities are sectioned off, but you can still see them. As you go down towards the bottom of the boat it gets a bit colder, there's also a ghost down here. The prison cells are very narrow, and you can go in them and close the door which is pitch dark; watch the spook isn't standing behind you! There's also a six bath tubs in a row & officers quarters.
They also have a recruiting office for all you would be sailors out there. Otherwise they could wallop you on the head with a stick, & you could join that way by waking up in the Navy; but youll have a sore head. Details below are:
Group Bookings - 44+023 9283 9766
Flagship Portsmouth Trust
College Road, HM Naval Base,
Portsmouth PO1 3LJ.
44+023 9286 1512
If you want a fun day out that is suitable for everyone then I must suggest Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. There is plenty to do and its not possible to do it all in one day. However, saying that you can purchase an all inclusive ticket (passport). This allows you to visit all three ships and the various other attractions. This is currently £15.50 for an adult and £12.50 for a senior citizen and children. It sounds expensive but it works out much cheaper than paying for the attractions separately. The good news with this ticket is that it has an unlimited time period on it so you can always return at a later date. One thing to bear in mind is you can only visit each attraction once. There is also a season ticket, which allows you unlimited access to all the attractions for 2 years (this is £28 for adults). These are both the better options as a ticket for one attraction costs a staggering £9.70 for adults and £8 for senior citizens and children. It is also worth noting that the registered disabled are entitled to a concession price and registered disabled carers (maximum one) and children under 5 are FREE The Historic Dockyard is easy to find. It is less than 5 miles away from J12 of the M27. There are brown Historic Waterfront signs from the M27 and Historic Dockyard signs when you get into Portsmouth itself. We were staying nearby in Southsea and it was also sign posted from there. The car park is not far from the Dockyards (approx. 300 metres). However, you do have to pay. The parking charges are as follows: Up to 2 hours - £1.50 Up to 4 hours - £2.70 Up to 8 hours - £4.80 Over 8 hours - £6.00 When you go through the entrance you have to go through the visitor centre. This is where you get your tickets. Remember if you do get a passport ticket not to lose it, as you will need it to get into each attraction! History of the dockyard The dockyards were constructed in 1194 at the order of King Richard
I. 18 years later his brother, King John, ordered for them to be enclosed. In 1495 Henry VII ordered the construction of the worlds first dry dock. It then became a fleet construction centre under Henry VIII. Charles II formed the Royal Navy in 1670. The docks then became the Royal Dockyard. The Great Ship Basin and 6 dry docks were built. This is where HMS Victory and the Mary Rose now sit. By 1800 the navy had 684 ships. The dockyard was now the worlds largest industrial complex. In 1802 the Blackmills were built. These were ship pulley blocks, which made the building of ships easier and quicker. These were designed by Marc Brunel, Isambard Kingdom Brunels father. HMS Dreadnought was built in record time and HMS Queen Elizabeth was built in 1913. The dockyard played and important part in both world wars. In 1967 HMS Andromeda was built. This was the last of 286 ships that were built at the dockyard. In 1984 it lost its royal title. Its now the most visited attraction in the South. Last year some 325, 000 visitors paid to look around the attractions and 100, 000 visitors went in free to wonder around without visiting the attractions. HMS Victory HMS Victory is the worlds oldest commissioned ship. She is also well known for being Horatio Nelson?s flagship in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. She was designed by Thomas Slade and launched in May 1765 from Chatham. However, she wasn?t commissioned until 1778. Her hull timbers were well seasoned because of this. This explains why she survived for so long. She was in service for 110 years and was moored in 1812 and now lives in No 2 Dry Dock. When you buy your ticket you are given a time for the tour around HMS Victory. If you miss it then you can?t go on another tour so make sure you are there in plenty of time! The tour lasts approximately 45 minutes. The guides consist of ex Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel and are highly knowledgeable. They take you aboard
the ship and give you an introduction. This is all done in English. They do have guidebooks for other nationalities. There were a few Germans in our group so they were given these. The tour involves climbing several steep stairs so is not suitable for those who use wheelchairs. They do offer a video tour for those who can?t get around the ship. One of the first visits is to the Great Cabin. This was where Nelson planned the Battle of Trafalgar and wrote his final prayer. The dining table and chairs could be folded away in times of battle and guns could be positioned. You can see his cot, which would become a coffin if he died. Up on the Quarterdeck there is a plaque to show where a musket ball fatally wounded Nelson. On the Lower gun Deck you can see the conditions that the men worked in during the battle. Up to 500 men would have lived on this deck and slept in their hammocks at night. The guide showed us the ?Cat o? Nine tails? which was used to flog the men that were to be punished. You also are told what they eat and drink. In the evening they were given a biscuit. These could become infested with weevils or maggots so were usually consumed in their hammocks so they couldn?t see them! All the guns they used are shown. The carronade was the largest of these guns. It used a 68lb shot, which caused the most structural damage. They show you the order that the gun was loaded in and how cramped and noisy the conditions were for the men. Down on the Orlop Deck you are shown where Nelson died. After he was wounded he was taken down below. It was here he uttered the words ?Kiss me Hardy?. The Orlop Deck was where the wounded men were taken. It was here the surgeon would amputate shattered limbs without the aid of anaesthetics. This was my favourite as it was very interesting and the guides bought it to life. There were children in our group and they were fascinated by it all as well. Royal Naval Museum Opposite HMS Victory is the Royal Naval Museum. It contains a collection of paintings, ship models, figureheads and medals. There are also computer screens to test your knowledge. You can also load a gun (on a computer!) and fire at another ship. It is also home to the award-winning exhibition Trafalgar! This is a recreation of the battle and it shows you how Nelson outwitted Napoleon. This is well worth seeing. You may have to wait for the next performance but you can look around the rest of the museum whilst you are waiting. HMS Warrior 1860 HMS Warrior is the first ship you see when you enter the dockyard. It was used when there was conflict between Britain and France. It is heavily armoured and was the world?s first iron hulled armoured battleship. As well as serving in an active fleet she has also been a number of things from an oil jetty and a floating workshop. In 1979 she was taken to Hartlepool to be restored. This cost £8 million and has been the most costly and complex restoration. You have a choice of paying extra for a headset (£1) which will give you various information as you are going round the ship. You are also given a map of the ship and numbers corresponding to the number you need to enter on the handset. There are also numbers displayed visibly around the ship. There are four decks and steep steps throughout the ship. So it may not be suitable for everyone. However, there us alternative access to two decks. To get on the ship everyone has to go up a ramp to the Upper Deck. There is a lift from the Upper Deck to the Main Gun Deck. When you enter the ship it as how it would have been when it was a warship. It is a very big contrast to HMS Victory. One of the things I found interesting was the cells that they had on the ship. These were used to punish those who committed serious crimes. Flogging wasn?t used as much as it would have been aboard HMS Victory. As you are free to wonder round as you p
lease you can spend as little or as much time on the ship as you like. Mary Rose The Mary Rose was built between 1510-1511. She was Henry VIII favourite ship and she was lost in 1545. She sank on her way to battle against the French. The worlds largest water excavation began in October 1982 when she was raised to the surface. She was taken back to No 3 Dry Dock to be restored. You see the Mary Rose from a viewing gallery. This is because she is being treated with polyethylene glycol. This is a water based wax solution, which is used to preserve her. This began in 1994 and the process will take 20 years to complete. You are given a headset in which you are told all about the ship and how she was saved and how she is being conserved. Some parts of the viewing gallery are not clear. This is because the wax solution sticks to the screen. They inform you of this and say that they try and clean them on a regular basis. Mary Rose Museum The Museum is easy to spot as it has a life-size statue of Henry VIII outside it. The Museum is at No 5 Boathouse and contains 20,000 artefacts found in the wreck. The story of raising the ship is told in an audio visual theatre and a screen in the museum tells you how it sank. There are various interesting articles in the museum including a backgammon set. There is also a replica of the Barber Surgeons Cabin. In a cabinet opposite this there are the various tools he would have used: razor, surgical tool handles, medical jars, syringes and a large mallet. There are many other things including weapons that you can handle and armour that you can try on. The armour is meant for the kids though! There are various sizes of longbow so you can see if you would have been strong enough to use one. Action Stations Action Stations is at Boathouse No 6, which was built in 1846. It?s a new attraction, which cost £16 million, which was partly funded by the Mille
nnium Commission. It shows you what the Royal Navy is like now and brings it to life. In my opinion I would imagine this would be children?s favourite attraction. That?s not to say us adults can?t enjoy ourselves! Whether you want to join the Navy or are simply interested it in then this is just the ticket. If you are interested in a career with the Navy then you can see if you have got what it takes. It features Command Approved, which is an auditorium showing the Navy in action. There is also a helicopter simulator in which you can fly a Merlin (remind you of Krypton Factor anyone!?) Ride the Movie is a simulator in a boat with the Royal Marines. It is warned that it?s not for the faint hearted! I can?t stress how much fun Action Stations is. I have included the separate website so you can have a look if you are interested in it. http://www.actionstations.org/ Harbour Tour This is a 40 minute tour around Portsmouth Harbour. When I saw this I really wanted to go on it. We went over two days and on the Tuesday when we went they weren?t running the tour due to high winds. We were lucky when we returned the following day though. On the tour you receive a running commentary of the ships that you are passing. The guide gives you the history of them and other interesting facts. You can chose to sit inside or go outside and brave the elements (it was still quite windy so I stayed inside!) For those boozers among us there is a licensed bar on board which also sells snacks. Three of Britains aircraft carriers (HMS Illustrious, HMS Ark Royal and HMS Invincible) were among the ships. There were also destroyers, frigates and mine warfare ships. You can also see the ship that they use for training. The tour takes you back passed the Historic Dockyard and then to Gunwharf Quays (a shopping centre). You can get off here but it means walking back to the Historic Dockyard which isn?t far. The Dockyard is open
every day (except Christmas Eve and Christmas Day). April to October - 10.00am to 5.30pm November to March - 10.00am to 5.00pm The are several places to eat and drink. There is a Costa Coffee shop in the visitor centre. In Action Stations there is a Cyber Cafe which has drinks and light refreshments. At Boathouse No. 7 there is The Family Fun Pub, the Roux Express Café or Benjys, a sandwich bar. So there is something for everyone. All in all it?s a great day out suitable for everyone. Its not really possible to see it all in one day but that doesn?t matter as you can go back whenever you like as long as you keep hold of your ticket! Porters? Lodge, Building 1/7, College Road, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth, Hampshire PO1 3LJ For further information: www.historicdockyard.co.uk
Portsmouth Portsmouth, a city with such a celebrated history; it is the birthplace of Charles Dickens, the position at which Nelson and his fleet were based and the position from where Henry VIII watched his most celebrated ship, the Mary Rose plunge to the depths of the Solent. Portsmouth today doesn’t quite have the same splendour, as it’s former glory. Today Portsmouth is famous for the most unattractive building in Britain (official-the Tricorn centre, a wonder to behold) and a millennium project, which has only just gained approval. WHAT PORTSMOUTH HAS TO OFFER HISTORY VISITS It is testament to the cities history that it is only really historic items that are really worth visiting. In the historic dockyards you have Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory. It has been restored to what it looked like when Nelson fought in the Napoleonic wars. The dockyards also host the skeletal remains of the Mary Rose, which as previously stated sank in mysterious circumstances on its launch in front of the king of the time, Henry VIII. Finally there is one of the first ironclad warships, which if memory serves me correctly is the HMS Warrior, a spectacle of engineering success. I have lived in the Portsmouth for 14 of my 18 years, which is the only knowledge for which I base this assessment. Portsmouth is very much a maritime-based culture, as signalled by the rather obscure cockney-esque accent. In the grand scale of things it is a city probably now relegated to an insignificant level, but if you are a visitor there is certainly a days worth of interesting exploration to be done. Charles Dickens’ birthplace or the dockyards are a common place to begin a grand tour of the city. Dickens’ birthplace is an interesting experience, you truly feel in awe as you stand in the birthplace of one of the worlds greatest novelists. It is the very house in which he was born, no doubt modified and refurbished to be s
imilar to it’s original state. If you are a literature lover, this will probably be a far more exciting attraction, than it would be for somebody who felt absolutely nothing for it. If you are visiting Portsmouth with a family, it might be more of a worthwhile experience to mosey on to Southsea (just south of Portsmouth), where there is an excellent sea life centre (even I still love to visit that place). If you have an interest in the Second World War and the military in general, Portsmouth really does have what you want. There is the D-Day museum, which focuses on the D-Day landings in Normandy, much of which was plotted and begun in Portsmouth. It has some very interesting artefacts and images. There is also a Royal Marines museum, which has a vast collection of Marine regalia, and tells many stories of the involvement of the British marines throughout history. FOR THE YOUNG AND YOUNG AT HEART GOING OUT Portsmouth of course is a university city. Therefore it has the qualities of all similar cities, with an array of economy and some less economical clubs and bars. If you want to stay in Portsmouth to have a night out, I would recommend Guildhall walk as the place to go. Guildhall walk is surprisingly situated next to the Portsmouth Guildhall. It has a number of varying establishments, including nationwide chains such as Witherspoons and Firkin & Firkin. Now when you finally come stumbling out of there a club may be in order, so get into a taxi and head to Southsea. I would say the most common clubs are Route 66 and Time, in the student population. Route 66 is a club with a 60’s American style, the music they play there is pop music from the 1960’s up to the present day garble, highly recommended if you don’t mind making yourself look a little foolish. Time is more of a club, club; it plays up to date dance records, etc. so it may be more appropriate for those who actually know how to dance (not me). Of cou
rse there are other great watering holes in Portsmouth such as at Gunwharf and other rarefied places but you can discover those yourself. CONCERTS Portsmouth has 3 potential concert venues, the Guildhall, the Wedgwood rooms and the Pyramid centre. Guildhall is the largest venue we have, it is about to stage The Who (if you want to lend me your tickets I would be extremely happy), it is not the most popular venue though. In popularity terms in the student community, the Wedgwood rooms are by far and way the most loved. The Wedgwood rooms hosts more alternative bands, and as the alternative seen is so big in Portsmouth (as it is in most places), the Wedgwood rooms are the concert venue most regularly visited. The pyramids centre is actually a swimming pool on the Southsea sea front. However situated to the right of the pool is the concert venue, this venue is not often used for large events, the last time I went there was to see Uriah Heep and Nazareth. The kindest way to describe it without being too harsh is by saying it is cosy, or in Lehman’s terms no room whatsoever and a very close proximity to the stage. SHOPPING If you really feel the need to go shopping in Portsmouth, there are two places to go Gunwharf, which has all sorts of more upper class ‘posh’ shops, or Cascades with all the usual high street shops. However as much as this sickens me to say it, Southampton our jolly old neighbours has a far more advanced shopping facility called West Quay’s or something similar. It has a far larger population of shops, of which the majority are situated within the same building. SPORTS Well here is where the positive vibes come to an end; in Portsmouth we have a choice of two main sporting venues, the dog tracks and Fratton Park, home of Portsmouth football club. At least when you visit the dogs there is slight entertainment however watching Portsmouth (unless you are an away fan) is usually a somewha
t sombre and thoroughly depressing occasion. Pompey are currently languishing in the bottom half of division one, as they have been for about 7 years, luck is not really associated with them, infact if you looked up the word unlucky in the dictionary, there would probably be the Portsmouth crest. CONCLUSION Portsmouth has a with and varied culture, and if you look hard enough and attempt to be open minded about the whole experience you may well find something to enjoy. We have everything a major city has; it is just compressed into a more manageable size. Who else can (and would) bost the country’s most unattractive building but Portsmouth, where else can you visit historic sites such as Charles Dickens’ birthplace and the ship which helped Nelsons fleet defeat the French, only in Portsmouth. With any luck Portsmouth will become even more of an attraction, when they complete the monorail (have you ever seen that Simpsons episode), and finally the millennium project. I hope this has been an amazing experience for you, and one day I may just see you down here, taking pictures of the Tricorn centre, until then farewell.
I went on holiday with my mum dad and brother last summer (August 2000) at the Hamble holiday centre in Southampton. It is right next to the Marina on the river Hamble. A number of people that I spoke to in the bar at the mariner who own yachts and luxury boats use this as their base from which they go for cruises to the Isle of Wight. I will talk of our stay in Hamble another time, but for now I would like to talk of our afternoon spent at the Historic Dockyard at Portsmouth. A few opinions have already been written in this area but it is one of my favourite locations in Portsmouth. The dockyard was a shelter for boats as far back as before the Romans came and over the years, Portsmouth became the main southern port for all kinds of shipping. In 1194, Portsmouth was given a charter and told to build its first dock. In 1495, the world’s first dry-dock was constructed in Portsmouth. Very little of the original dockyard remains. Later stone buildings are being restored and a new walkway was being laid along the central parade when we visited so space was cramped with a large number of Asian tourists. The original dry-dock is not accessible to visitors so you will not see anything that was made before the 15th century. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX ARRIVING XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX To start the trip, we had to find somewhere to park the car, as there is no parking on site. The road signs are easy to follow as foreign tourists regularly visit. You will find that the open-air car parks close to the dockyard are expensive but we paid the £3 for three hours, as we couldn’t be bothered with spending time searching for a space in the town centre that could be better spent at the dockyard. The car park we went to had a warden’s office and they watch over the cars though so we were quite happy to pay the fee in the end. We had a five-minute walk
to the dockyard and entered the reception building. It wasn’t the busiest of days as the roped queuing system was only half used but there was still a ten-minute wait as the reception staff were trying to explain the difference between group and family pricing to the foreign tourists. We also tried to argue for a family ticket. As I said at the start, it was my mum, dad, brother and myself, so we asked for the family ticket. We were then told that we are not classed as a family as my brother and I were over 16 years old. We ended up paying £3.50 each for 4 single adult tickets. For those that are interested, last summers prices were adult £3.50, senior citizens/students £3.00 and children £2.00. If you qualify as a family, the children are £1.00 per child. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX HMS WARRIOR XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX After the disappointment of being told we were not a real family, we ambled round to the first attraction, which was the HMS Warrior. Launched in 1861, it was the largest and most powerful warship in the world. The ship is huge and there is plenty of room to walk round. It isn’t one of the most famous ships in the world so the “tourists” skip this and head for the Victory. This means that the people looking round this ship were genuinely interested and we found this a very enjoyable hour wandering and chatting to other people. We wandered around the deck before heading down the steep ladders to the deck below. You can walk anywhere on this ship, as it is completely open. You can see the wheel ropes heading through the decks and away to the rudder. There are plenty of information plaques scattered around the ship and you can pick up a leaflet that points out the important items of interest. Unfortunately, due to the number of foreign tourists, the staff had been taken from this ship to help in the museum and Victory so we couldn̵
7;t ask any questions. Most of the people wandering round ended up going round in little groups. We found ourselves walking round with an American couple and another English family and we discussed things as we walked round. You do need about an hour to take in everything on this ship. We were able to go right down below the waterline to the engine room and we could here the water slopping against the side. Before you get confused about the engines, the Warrior had sails and steam power, which helped it have a vast advantage over sailing ships in battle. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX HMS VICTORY XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX This wasn’t the next item in line, but a guide said that there was a long queue so we decided to get in now. The reason for this is that I went to the dockyard specifically to see the Victory and we thought that we didn’t want to be to late by queuing near closing time. We queued for about twenty-minutes. We were parched as all the ice-cream stalls had run out by two-thirty so we queued in the sun with only a small Capri Sun which is all they had left. The reason that there is usually a queue is that due to health and safety regulations that are strictly enforced, only a certain number of people can be on board at any one time. As people come out of the exit, someone tells the entrance staff by walkie-talkie how many people can enter. We walked round ourselves as the guides were tied up with two tourist groups and we didn’t want to wait and join the next tour as the people wait spoke little English. We were OK though because there are guides scattered throughout the ship to answer questions from passers by. You can have a pamphlet to guide you round but they were rather expensive so we declined. I found the tour of the Victory a disappointment. After the freedom of the Warrior, the victory tour consists of a single roped walkway and
you can’t stop for long at a certain item, as the group behind wants to move on. The whole thing felt like a production line churning people in at one end and out at the other. You would be well advised to find a quiet time to visit the Victory to fully appreciate it. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX MARY ROSE XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX Directly from the exit of the Victory is the Mary Rose Hall. This is basically a single room with a tunnel round the edge. The room contains the few remaining parts of the Mary Rose. The timbers are being constantly sprayed with a wax solution that over time will drive the water out and take its place. This is because any sudden change may destroy the remains forever. As you enter, you are given a rudimentary radio unit that you hold to your ear like a mobile phone. As you enter the tunnel, the radio receives a loop play recording so you have to wait for the loop to restart to understand what is going on. As you walk along the tunnel, you pick up a new loop, which tells you what you can see through each window in the tunnel. The whole thing takes about twenty-minutes to complete but can take longer if you have to fight your way past foreigners to see through the windows. Near the entrance was the Mary Rose museum, but it was closed during the week of our stay. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX ROYAL NAVAL MUSEUM XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX After leaving the Mary Rose exhibit, we headed back to pick up on the normal route. The museum is on two floors and contains many interesting exhibits. This part is very blurred in my memory as the guides were telling us that the dockyard was closing soon. The museum takes you through the history of the dockyard from before Nelson’s time through to the Second World War. There are many models and displays in the sections and I fo
und what I was able to see very interesting. If I go back in the future, I will update my review of the museum. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX SHOPS AND RESTAURANT XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX There are four main shops in the dockyard. Near the entrance are three shops, The Mary Rose Shop, The Bosun’s bookshop and The Purser’s Store. At the Naval Museum, there is another shop. If you are going to buy something and have the time to spare, check all the shops, as they stock some duplicate items and I have found that the prices sometimes vary between shops. The shops near the exit gate are more expensive than the shop near the back where the Victory is. There is a licensed restaurant called the “Tradewinds”. It has a self-service area and you take your tray to a cashpoint to pay. They serve hot and cold meals as well as sandwiches and snacks. They are very highly priced though and I would recommend taking a packed lunch. When I visited, I think it was about £3.00 each for two sandwiches and a Medium coke (they use similar cups to McDonalds except you get to press the buttons on the dispensing machines). Be careful what you buy in the shops. Buy sensible items as the prices of general trinkets and gift items have been hiked up to fleece the foreigners who don’t know any better. The books are good but many of them can be bought in general bookstores at cheaper prices. The shops in the dockyard use the cover prices. XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX CONCLUSION XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX All in all, I enjoyed the afternoon that we spent here. To get round everything without rushing though, you should aim to arrive at about 10:30 to 11:00. This gives you plenty of time to wander. My favourite part of the dockyard by far is the HMS Warrior. Simply due to the freedom to go anywhere o
n board and take as much time as you need. I would recommend this ship to anyone and I ask you not to skip it in favour of looking round the Victory. The day cost us a total of around £30 for four adults including the parking along the road (the car was still there when we got back too). Of course, gifts and other shopping will add to that cost. I bought some models of the Victory and another boat as well as some prints and a couple of books. This came to about £50 that you will think is a lot of money (which it is), but I think the items were worth it as I have a keen interest in naval history. If you ever go to Portsmouth, I would recommend that you visit the dockyard, as it is quite a nice experience. There just isn’t enough to make you go back a second time though (Not at that price anyway). The price I have listed is an average for one person for entry and something to eat.
Here lies the spot where Nelson fell! Not bloody surprised, I nearly tripped over that plaque myself! I wish I had a pound for every time someone said that. Let me explain, in 1998 I was a guide onboard HMS Victory, in the Historic or Maritime Museum in Portsmouth. Let me give you a virtual tour before letting you into more detail about Portsmouth and her world famous Dockyard. Good morning ladies and gentleman, welcome onboard HMS Victory, the oldest commissioned warship in the world. My name is Angus, and I will be your guide for today. There are 2 restrictions whilst you are onboard today and that is no smoking and no flash photography! Please mind your head as we walk around the ship and watch out for fixtures and fittings that you may trip over. Now if you would like to follow me up the stairs, please use both sides. We are now in nelsons cabin, and if you look around you can see the furniture that nelsons cabin would be furnished with. The armchair belonged to the Duke of Cornwallis and was left for Nelson when he took command of the ship. The sword you can see on the table was presented to Nelson in Naples. Moving on to the upper deck This wheel would be used to turn the rudder and unlike the Errol Flynn movies, it took quite a few men to turn it. Just behind you on the deck is a plaque to show where Nelson was fatally wounded, by a French Sniper in 1805, it was from that very spot, Nelson was carried to the Orlop deck, where he later passed away. Moving on, past the original cannons, of which there were some 110, more even if they top loaded the ship at wartime. The largest of the cannons being a 64 pound carronade. (That is big!) Down we go to the Orlop deck. Orlop, meaning false deck (roughly) in Dutch. Notice the deck is painted red, this is because Surgeon Beattie had his sickbay down here and all the wounded would be transported down
here during a battle. Here you can see a painting marking the last resting place of Nelson, before his last famous words, disputably Kiss me Hardy, although Scholars of the time say it was more likely to be Kismet Hardy, meaning fate. Up we go passed the galley, which would cook, for 800 men, normally a stew of rancid meat, salted pork or beef with peas or beans shoved in. Here we see a hammock similar to the one used at the time, who would like to try it? Go away little kid; I have my eye on that young blonde! Thank you for your time today and I hope you enjoyed your tour around HMS Victory. There you go! Not bad for something I did 13 years ago. As well as the Victory, you can find the Mary Rose, or HMS Driftwood as we called her. The Mary Rose is an audio tour, where they give you a set of headphones and a tape in your language. Not the same as a daft Geordie spinning bad jokes! HMS Warrior can be found in this maritime extravaganza, she was the first built iron Clad steam war ship in the world, and is much more plush than the Victory, although she has not got that woody smell to her. Insight to the Victory. I shared my chips with Melvyn Bragg while he was interviewing Sir William Golding for the South Bank Show The Victory is haunted and few people, if any would spend the night in the hold. I would not even go down there on my own! None of the timbers are original The original timbers came from the new Forrest She was launched at Chatam In 1765 ish And that will do until I decide to update this. Angus
The Portsmouth Historic Dockyard includes three ships: the Mary Rose, HMS Victory and HMS Warrior, as well as several museums. There are various ticket options, from individual attractions to a two-year season ticket, but if you're likely to be making a one-off visit, best value is likely to be the Passport. This admits you to all the ships and museums, as well as the Warships by Water boat trip around Portsmouth Harbour. Despite spending a full day at the Dockyard, I didn't visit everything included in the Passport ticket. Unless you have a lot of energy, you could easily spread your visit over two days, which makes the Passport good value. The Mary Rose was shipwrecked in Portsmouth Harbour, watched by Henry VIII. The wreck was raised in 1985, and is now housed in the dockyard where it is constantly sprayed with both water and a chemical solution which gradually replaces the water in the wood. Twenty years of this treatment are required before the wreck can be dried out. An audio guide explains the different decks on view, and how what remains relates to the whole ship. The separate Mary Rose Exhibition includes models of the ship and further information about its naval career and sinking, as well as the subsequent exploration and raising of the wreck. Many items recovered from the wreck are also on display, and give a lot of information about life on the ship. HMS Victory was Nelson's ship at the Battle of Trafalgar, and is still a commissioned Navy warship although they now use it primarily for entertaining. The guided tour takes about 45 minutes, and involves steep stairs and low beams. However, it's very interesting and gives a good idea of life on board ship for ordinary sailors as well as the rather more glamorous lifestyle of Nelson himself. The accompanying museum and exhibition includes a very lively audio-visual recreation of the Battle of Trafalgar. The newest of the three ships, HMS
Warrior, was the first iron-hulled warhsip, although it never fired a gun in anger. You can explore this yourself, with the assistance of an optional audio guide (this was not so good: the sections were rather long and it was hard to maintain interest in them). Again, there are steep ladder-type stairs, but the variety of rooms on display (including prison cells, cooking area, etc) make braving them worthwhile if you are able to manage climbing up and down them. The Dockyard Apprentice is an exhibition giving information about the various skills used by those working in Portsmouth Dockyard. This was interesting, and the information was presented in a way that was easy to absorb, including through interactive displays. Finally, the Warships by Water boat trip was fun (probably really fascinating if you're interested in ships, quite interesting for those of us who aren't) and provided good views of the waterfront and docks as well as of the ships. Altogether, the Historic Dockyard provides several days of interesting displays and activities even if, like me, you have no particular interest in naval history. There are more attractions than I managed to visit. Particular highlights for me were the Mary Rose, tour of the Victory, and the boat trip.