A few years ago I found myself at a loose end. My husband was away and I wanted to do something different. I don't drive so I looked for something within easy travelling distance from my home in Gosport, Hampshire. I didn't have to look far as it dawned on me that, although I only lived a few miles from it, I had never been to the R.N. Submarine Museum. I took a quick bus ride and stepped back in time…
The minute you get into the museum your imagination is grabbed by the numerous exhibitions that cover everything from the theory of how a submarine works to the design of the early one man submarines and how they changed and developed over the years.
This is the only museum in the UK where you can have a guided tour of a submarine and I was lucky enough to have a guide who had actually served on a submarine during World War 2. His description of life aboard was vivid. It was easy to imagine the tensions between the crew in the cramped conditions, the boredom, the fear during action. He highlighted the everyday problems like the bread that started off fresh but steadily got stale and eventually mouldy, but was still eaten out of necessity. The lack of storage space and privacy were obvious and when I came out I was glad to breathe fresh air and stand in the sunshine again.
There are many different areas in the museum, each with a slightly different theme. My favourite was the huge room that had hands -on exhibits with interactive 'games' demonstrating the workings of a submarine and things such as morse code and radar. The children there were certainly kept entertained and their enjoyment was obvious.
One totally unexpected exhibit is an actual canoe used in Operation Frankton in 1942 when brave Royal Marines paddled into Bordeaux and placed limpet mines on the German ships in the harbour, sinking one and severely damaging four others. These men are best known as the 'Cockleshell Heroes' and were immortalised in the 1955 film of the same name.
I was very pleased that I finally visited a very fine exhibition on my own doorstep and since then have also visited the Dive Museum at Stokes Bay in Gosport and 'Explosion' at Priddy's Hard (another part of the town) which deals with Naval fire power from gunpowder to the Exocet I've also visited Fort Brockhurst in Gosport which is one of the ring of forts along the Solent known as 'Palmerston's Follies'. All were entertaining, informative and good fun.
I have at last realised that it is fun to occasionally be a tourist in my own town and I suspect that where ever you, the reader, may live you could obtain a lot of pleasure by becoming a tourist in your area from time to time.
If you are ever close to my home town of Gosport please come and take a look for yourself. I can thoroughly recommend the Submarine Museum (which is close to the Ferry Gardens), Fort Brockhurst and 'Explosion'. They are all great places to visit in their own right.
The Dive Museum is new and quite small and would not be a full day's excursion but a visit can be combined with a stroll along Stokes Bay, with it's cafe and views of the Isle of Wight, and you could also take in Stanley Park with it's formal garden and wild areas, and Fort Gomer, another of 'Palmerston's Follies', as they are all just a short distance from one another. Gosport also has a golf course , ice rink, leisure centre, tennis courts, several caravan park and a good selection of B&Bs and hotels so why not come for a few days and have a chance to see it all?