Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

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August, 2019

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Portsmouth is a place we’d been meaning to visit for quite some time. Our last trip was over twenty years ago, when we stopped off on a visit to the Isle of Wight.

Being August everywhere was busy, which we were prepared for. Staying a few miles out in the village of Sarisbury we drove towards the city centre and used the Park and Ride facility, which, for the price of £4.00 per car (that includes the bus ride) we found both economical and convenient.

My husband loves all things nautical and to make the most of our week around Portsmouth we bought the full ticket, giving us access to all areas for a year – £38.00 per person. If you book on line there is a 20% discount. The Marie Rose Exhibition is separate and costs £15.00 per visit.

Armed guards and a bag search at the entrance to the Historic Dock Yard was a little unexpected but given how long it’s been since our last visit not a total surprise in this day and age. The Historic Dock Yard is geared for visitors of all ages and alongside the main attractions, The HMS Victory, HMS Warrior and the submarine museum there are plenty of cafés, gift shops and amusements for the children on and off the water.

The HMS Victory
The audio guide offered as you climb on board is a welcome addition, (to the human guides) you can hear the drama of the battle of Trafalgar unfolding deck-by-deck and hour by hour as the ship sets sail from Portsmouth.

I did remember our last visit to the HMS Victory and at 5’2” tall I am the perfect height, not having to duck too often under the very low beams. By the time we reached the bowels of the ship with even lower beams I did notice one ‘tall’ family, they sounded Dutch. The Dad had found a seat to take time out from moving about hunched over. Bet he had a right old crick in his neck the next day. Life on board Victory was harsh and it amuses me that even on a war ship, English standards were maintained with the Captain being served his meals in his own dining room, using fine bone china. The crew were well fed and well looked after although their feeding and sleeping arrangements were definitely rough and ready. By all accounts they had up to eight pints of beer each per day which surprised me. I knew they got a tot of rum but I guess the beer replaced water, which of course would not have been available. There is a plaque on the top deck of The Victory depicting where Nelson our most famous Admiral fell.

HMS Warrior
The world’s first iron-hulled, armoured warship launched in 1860 and never fired a shot in anger, yet changed naval warfare forever. Another fascinating ship to tour and I’m pleased to say that 100 years on from the Victory many features had greatly improved the life of the sailor. Not to mention tall and short alike being able to move freely below decks without banging heads.

Boat Trips
We took a 45 minute boat trip around the harbour. The narrator gave a clear concise description of the larger vessels we passed. Most interesting was HMS Queen Elizabeth, the latest aircraft carrier, and it is a monster of a ship. The Queen Elizabeth is named in honour of Elizabeth I.

The U.K. has two aircraft carriers currently under construction. There’s the Queen Elizabeth, due to become operational in 2020, and Prince of Wales, due in 2022. Cost of the two ships – 6.2 Billion.

Although we didn’t do it this time you can hop on the waterbus across to Gosport’s Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower and Royal Navy Submarine museum.

Statue – Unconditional Surrender
As part of Portsmouth’s D-Day commemorations the iconic 25ft statue of the kissing couple was unveiled on Sunday 2nd June 2019 by a group of WW2 Veterans before they travelled to Normandy the following day. The Unconditional Surrender is a series of sculptures by Seward Johnson, closely resembling a photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt taken on V-J Day 1946 in Times Square. This iconic picture and now statue of the sailor and the girl, apparently a dental student, with her white overall, apron and white shoes are caught up in the joy of the moment, where he’s embraced and kissed her. It’s a brilliant image, capturing perfectly the feeling of the nation on that momentous day. The statue is positioned right beside HMS Victory.

The Spinnaker Tower
Just outside the Historic Dock Yard is a very snazzy shopping area with all the usual shops and eateries with the Spinnaker Tower as the main attraction. £15 to take a trip to the top will give a fascinating view over the whole of Portsmouth, the Solent and The Isle of Wight.

Although we didn’t get to see everything this time we have our full Navy ticket and hope to return later in the year to take full advantage of all that’s on offer. If it’s something you think you’ll enjoy it’s well worth the money.

The Full Navy Ticket includes entry to the National Museum of the Royal Navy Portsmouth.

Boathouse 4: A great new family attraction within the Historic Dockyard, Boathouse 4 features hands-on children’s activities.

HMS Alliance at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum: Discover a world beneath the sea by walking on board HMS Alliance.

HMS M.33: Discover the only surviving ship from the First World War’s Gallipoli campaign.

Dockyard Apprentice exhibition and see the skills of the men who made Portsmouth Dockyard the centre of the Industrial Revolution.

Harbour Tours and Waterbus:
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard opens from 10am to 5:30pm April – October, and 10am to 5pm November – March. Last tickets are sold at 4.30pm (April – October) and 4pm (November – March). The Dockyard is closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.




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