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HMS Belfast – a floating museum – for those who like stairs !
HMS Belfast (London)
Member Name: libertybell
HMS Belfast (London)
Date: 25/09/00, updated on 25/09/00 (116 review reads)
Advantages: One of few remaining WW2 British battleships available to visit, reasonable VFM
Disadvantages: Difficult to get around, not everyone’s cup of tea
HMS Belfast is a World War 2 (WW2) Battle Cruiser moored on the south side of the River Thames just up river from Tower Bridge. The quickest way of getting to the ship is to take the tube to London Bridge, exit onto Tooley Street, and walk onto the embankment via the Hayes Galleria (also worth a look !). Its well sign posted.
The Ship is part of the Imperial War Museum collection. Admission prices are pretty standard. When we went in February 2000, an adult cost £4.70 and children up to 5 were free. HMS Belfast was built in 1938 and served in WW2 and the Korean War. As battleships go, she is reasonably big but nothing compared with the preserved North American battleships e.g. USS North Carolina (or that one used in the Cher video). For the anoraks amongst us, she has 12 6-inch guns which makes her a relative minnow. In comparison the Bismarck had 15-inch guns.
So what’s it like ? There’s quite a bit to see and climbing to do. Like most ships of its type, it has a mixture of steep stairs and steps. I would not recommend it for those who are disabled, very young or don’t like clambering around. My son (who was 3 at the time) hated the idea of climbing a vertical ladder but eventually found the gun turrets fascinating. On the shore side of the ship can be found an anti-aircraft gun. One person can turn the gun whilst another can raise the barrel. We managed to point it at Tower Bridge and would have blown it away had we had the ammo !!
Going below decks, you can visit the bridge where a noisy tape recreates the chase of the one of Germany’s battleships during WW2. I think it was Bismarck. You are able to visit the Mess and see some wax figures making a meal. There is also a museum describing the workings of the Royal Navy.
If you like ships and want to spend half a day seeing what it was like aboard a battleship – give it a try. However if you find climbing up and down ladders is not for you – the
n give it a miss.