Thursday, June 13, 2024

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard with youngsters – overview


I’ve been fascinated by the Mary Rose, ever since I watched the wreck being raised from below the Solent as a baby, so attending to see this Tudor ship is at all times a spotlight of a go to to Portsmouth – however with a lot to do at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard with youngsters, it’s actually solely the start.

My daughter walks towards Boathouse 4 during a day out at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard with kids

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Dwelling to Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory, in addition to HMS Warrior, as soon as the world’s largest warship, plus a string of different points of interest, it’s no shock that the Historic Dockyard‘s tickets features a 12-month Final Explorer go to offer you sufficient time to suit all of them in.

However for those who’re solely you’re solely visiting Portsmouth for at some point, as we have been, and squeezing in a go to to the Spinnaker Tower as effectively, simply what are you able to handle to see at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard with youngsters? Actually rather a lot…

The Mary Rose Museum

For sure, our first cease needed to be the Mary Rose – I keep in mind seeing the ship right here again within the 80s with my very own dad and mom, however by the point I subsequent visited as an grownup, a serious £5 million mission was underway to offer her a brand new house and put extra reveals on show.

Reopened as soon as once more in 2016, I couldn’t wait to see her in all her new glory and introduce my daughter to the story of the ship, her wrecking and salvage.

View from the gallery along the wreck of the Mary Rose, with the Tudor ship and the various levels of viewing galleries at the Mary Rose Museum seen - my review of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard with kids

And the Mary Rose Museum might hardly be extra completely different than my reminiscences of my first go to – which, let’s face it, have been nonetheless spectacular sufficient for me to recollect it vividly for many years! Then, guests have been saved on a walkway below low lighting with water jets spraying the traditional timbers.

In the present day’s high-tech, in-depth exhibition is a world away, and if I hadn’t needed to see extra of the Historic Dockyard’s points of interest, I believe I might have spent all day right here.

To start out off, you stroll via an interactive presentation narrated by Henry VIII himself, giving a number of the background in regards to the Mary Rose. His personal flagship in the course of the wars with the French, she sank in 1545 because the king watched from the shore, with greater than 400 males killed.

It’s a extremely enjoyable approach to deliver the story to life for teenagers, earlier than entering into the exhibition galleries. And with loads of interactive touches all through, there’s little probability of youthful guests becoming bored by the mass of historic element.

Within the first room alone, my daughter was engrossed in a portray of the sinking of the Mary Rose, with touchscreens permitting you to decide on explicit particulars to study extra about, from folks pictured to on a regular basis life, in addition to extra in regards to the ships moored within the harbour.

Then there’s dressing as much as take pleasure in, in between studying extra background together with theories on why the Mary Rose sank, why so lots of her crew have been drowned, and some artefacts together with the ship’s bell.

However across the nook is your first sight of the wreck herself, with a number of viewing galleries on completely different ranges. With components rotted away, you may see the entire skeleton of the ship – and it feels astounding that something has survived, though the stable oak used within the development remains to be robust sufficient to stroll on.

Not that guests can do this, after all, however with new glass panels by the walkways and an unobstructed line of sight to the ship, the views are higher than ever.

As with the remainder of the shows, it’s all been carried out very cleverly – after gazing onto the darkened and silent ship for a couple of minutes, the wreck unexpectedly sprang to life, as sure areas on board have been illuminated with projections of their inhabitant going about their day by day enterprise.

It offers you an concept of how crowded, noisy and customarily stuffed with exercise and bustle the ship will need to have been, with wooden being sawn, a canine barking, voices echoing; instantly as an alternative of a historic wreck, you see the Mary Rose as very a lot a residing ship.

A part of me hardly needs to spoil the impact, which took us by delighted shock, however as one in every of my favorite components, it’s too good to maintain secret.

As you then discover the completely different themed galleries with extra reveals and knowledge, you retain having an opportunity to see the Mary Rose from the varied ranges as you go, which is an added bonus.

Display at the Mary Rose Museum with artefacts found on the Tudor wreck at the museum in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

However there’s now way more to discover than merely the wreck. A few of the first shows introduce you to folks or occupations on board – even together with the skeleton of the ship’s canine.

Alongside the best way, you’ll study every little thing from what the furnishings and instruments you’d have discovered within the cabins, such because the surgeon’s tools, proper all the way down to the garments the grasp gunner was carrying, full with gunpowder stain.

The shows even recreate the faces of a number of the crew, in addition to intimate particulars found from their skeletons – the grasp gunner had horrible enamel and a healed fracture on his left hand, for instance, whereas the grasp carpenter most likely got here from Spain, was in his 30s and had the beginnings of arthritis.

Plus there are notes with added bits of trivia, and tips about particulars to look out for, similar to carved dragons in a single explicit case – one other bonus for households.

There’s extra interactive enjoyable right here too: a sport to see for those who might disable enemy ships fairly than sinking them, an opportunity to get fingers on with stone shot used within the weapons, and even a reproduction of a jar from the surgeon’s cabin, which nonetheless smelled of menthol centuries after it was misplaced beneath the waves.

Elsewhere you possibly can excavate gadgets from beneath the sand with a paintbrush, or see for those who’re sturdy sufficient to tug again the drawstring on a longbow – not really easy, no surprise the archer discovered on board had a broken elbow from doing that time and again!

There’s a lot info, this overview might simply change into a ebook if I attempted to say every little thing, however imagine me after I say permit loads of time to soak all of it in! You’re advisable to permit two hours no less than.

My daughter stands next to a sign reading Dive 4D, the new interactive video ending a visit to the Mary Rose Museum during our day out at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard with kids

To complete, there’s a 4D cinema expertise, Dive the Mary Rose 4D, which is new for 2023 protecting her more moderen historical past with the discovering of the Mary Rose in 1971, the lengthy excavation and the intricate salvage operation to lift the wreck in 1982, a feat that’s virtually as spectacular because the ship herself.

HMS Victory

Nelson’s flagship is the opposite best-known spotlight of a go to to the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard with youngsters, the oldest naval ship nonetheless in fee worldwide.

View of part of HMS Victory, currently being restored, hidden behind a sign to Victory Live - one of the highlights of a visit to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard with kids

And whereas the ship is at the moment coated in scaffolding, you may nonetheless go aboard to go searching.

Solely ever designed to final for round 9 years earlier than needing repairs, beginning energetic service in 1778 in the course of the struggle of American Independence, then famously taking up Napoleon’s fleet on the Battle of Trafalgar, HMS Victory has survived for over 250 years.

With lots of her timbers rotting, a £45 million pound revamp has eliminated the decayed sections and is aiming to revive the remainder of the ship over the subsequent 10 years or so – which does imply that for those who go to now, you’ll get to see sections of Victory which have by no means been on show earlier than.

It’s straightforward sufficient to dodge the scaffolding, and whereas there is perhaps just a few detours on the route, we didn’t really feel that we have been lacking out on any of the important thing components of the ship both.

And what brings HMS Victory to life is the implausible audio information. Usually we are inclined to skip these as my daughter both needs to race via or rapidly will get bored of listening to the recorded information.

On Victory, it was fairly the alternative: she insisted we didn’t depart till she had listened to each final part (in addition to replaying the one on the poop deck a number of occasions over!)

The narration builds up an image of occasions main as much as Nelson boarding the ship, the journey to fulfill the Franco-Spanish fleet, via to the Battle of Trafalgar till the Admiral’s demise after a sniper’s bullet, in addition to particulars about life on board – which was house to over 800 crew members.

Strolling via the comparatively luxurious captain’s cabin (designed to be remodeled at a second’s discover if the cannon have been wanted), the surgeon’s quarters, the strains of weapons under decks and the kitchens, there’s every little thing from maps and drums to ornate rugs bringing Victory to life.

When you’ve explored inside, you may even head down to take a look at Victory’s hull. You’re advised to permit round an hour to go searching, which is roughly how lengthy we spent.

If you wish to study extra in regards to the restoration mission together with particulars of the challenges concerned, there’s additionally Victory Dwell: The Large Restore, which takes you onto the scaffolding, together with a household path.

You too can go to the Victory Gallery, which tells the ship’s full story past Trafalgar, with movie and artefacts plus interactive exhibitions. And to finish the set, the Nelson Gallery on the Nationwide Museum of the Royal Navy has extra on the Admiral’s life, together with his scandalous love life, triumphs and defeats.

HMS Warrior

With restricted time left to discover the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, our large query was what else to slot in, as we weren’t wanting choices to complete our go to.

Prow of HMS Warrior with a sign reading the Largest Warship in the World and Portsmouth harbour in the background - my review of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard with kids

Torn between a harbour tour and the prospect to discover the dockyard’s third well-known ship, the massing clouds and the will to see the ship we’d noticed earlier that day from the highest of the Spinnaker Tower, meant that HMS Warrior gained out.

The latest of the three nice ships at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, HMS Warrior was as soon as the world’s largest warship, the jewel of the Victorian Navy when she launched in 1860, and probably the most superior ship of her time.

Britain’s first iron-hulled, armoured battleship, she is steam-powered – though additionally has masts and sufficient sails to cowl 13 tennis courts!

In contrast to the opposite two ships, there isn’t an audio information or an enormous quantity of knowledge on board – as an alternative you study extra about HMS Warrior from the characters on board, from Victorian vacationers strolling on deck to the crew under.

Sadly, throughout our go to, there have been solely a few folks round – maybe as a result of we have been exploring late within the day – so it did really feel like we most likely missed quite a lot of the data obtainable.

Whereas we received a peek into the brig, with one character sharing some particulars on what might see you banged up within the cell, and noticed an engineer as we peered on the glow of the fires from the engine room, we didn’t stumble upon anybody else alongside the best way.

It’s nonetheless spectacular to wander round although. The deck felt large by comparability to HMS Victory, with the masts towering above, though the hanging beds and sensible opulence of the captain’s quarters felt very acquainted.

We did spot just a few enjoyable particulars as effectively, together with the yearly pay for various ranks – amusingly the paymaster ended up going house with the most important wage – and afternoon tea laid out for the officers, in addition to the communal bathtub with three tubs lined up subsequent to one another.

There was even a chart with tips about how you can tie knots, and a menu with some fairly unappealing dishes together with celery seed soup, or preserved potato. Undoubtedly someplace to revisit to find extra of Warrior’s tales.

Extra issues to see at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard with youngsters

We might simply have crammed our complete day at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, and a second one too – and whereas we did handle to see all three well-known ships, the Mary Rose, HMS Victory and HMS Warrior, there was lots left together with the next points of interest.

Harbour excursions

After so lengthy exploring ships in dry dock and studying the tales of a number of the Navy’s most well-known moments, you may get on board your self with a harbour tour round Portsmouth harbour.

View from HMS Warrior towards another of the buildings at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard over the small stretch of water where harbour tours depart

In addition to seeing the town from the water, you can too get a have a look at a number of the trendy Navy’s ships up shut, together with frigates, destroyers and plane carriers, all primarily based in Portsmouth, with commentary from the harbour tour captain, plus extra tales from Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’s previous and current.

It’s price figuring out that there are not any buggies or pushchairs allowed on board, though there’s a buggy park by Boathouse 4 close by, and excursions could also be cancelled if the climate is dangerous. The excursions are included in Final Explorer tickets (otherwise you could possibly purchase particular person tickets on the day), and locations on board are restricted.

HMS M.33

HMS M.33 is without doubt one of the few surviving British First World Conflict ships, in-built 1915 and the one British survivor of the Dardanelles Marketing campaign, together with the Gallipoli marketing campaign.

Guides on board share what life would have been like for these preventing on the Jap Entrance, together with movie, exhibition and recreated cabins from the ‘fortunate ship’s’ wartime service.

Motion Stations: Commando Expertise

In case your youngsters want to burn off some power after exploring the opposite points of interest or fancy themselves as a future Royal Marine, Motion Stations is ideal, with loads of play and adrenaline-fuelled enjoyable within the journey zone.

View across the water past several buildings towards the brick building housing Action Stations adventure and play - one of the fun things to do at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard with kids

For the smallest adventurers, there’s Sky Tykes, geared toward youngsters aged 2-7 with rope bridges and steadiness beams, whereas for age 7+, there’s a 40m assault course designed to check velocity, agility and steadiness – the file stands at 24 seconds!

Or for those who’ve received a head for heights, deal with the 8.4m climbing wall, with adjustable ranges of problem. Motion Stations is open at weekends and through Hampshire faculty holidays, whereas there’s additionally Laser Quest for a further charge.

Nationwide Museum of the Royal Navy

The Nationwide Museum of the Royal Navy tells each the story of the Navy over the past 350 years and the women and men who’ve served over the past 100 years, each in peacetime and struggle.

There are some gruesomely fascinating details (why are there at all times so many weevils?), reveals on the best way the Navy has influenced communities all over the world, in addition to a gallery devoted to Admiral Lord Nelson.

View from the deck of HMS Victory towards red brick naval buildings at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard - my review

Boathouse 4

Boathouse 4 focuses on the historical past and craft of boatbuilding, with specialists sharing their information, interactive shows and a set of historic small boats.

With info on every little thing from 18th century cutter ships to Second World Conflict submarines, it’s good in case your youngsters are fascinated by boats massive and small.

Dockyard Apprentice

Relatively than the ships, Dockyard Apprentice is all in regards to the individuals who labored on the Dockyard over a century in the past, with touch-screen know-how and a few immersive recreations serving to you study their tales.

There are many probability to get fingers on, testing your knot-tying expertise and holding conventional ship-building instruments, because the Royal Navy’s Dreadnought class ships have been introduced from the drafting board to actuality. Entry is free for all guests.

Royal Navy Submarine Museum, Gosport

The Royal Navy Submarine Museum is on the Dockyard’s second web site in Gosport – you may take a waterbus from the primary web site to achieve it (scroll down for extra particulars) – the place guests can discover Second World Conflict sub HMS Alliance, in addition to seeing the Royal Navy’s first submarine, HMS Holland 1, in addition to the tiny 15m lengthy X24.

In addition to peeking via working periscopes, you may uncover what life was like at sea – or fairly, below it – plus the half submarines have performed in British naval historical past.

Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower, Gosport

The Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower is dedicated to weapons and armaments – if it goes bang, it’s most likely right here.

Set at Priddy’s Exhausting in Gosport, a web site as soon as used to retailer munitions too harmful to be saved on the primary dockyard, ships together with HMS Victory would have loaded their weapons and ammunition right here over the centuries, proper up till the Falklands Conflict in 1982. You too can spot missiles, torpedoes and listen to tales of these concerned in making them.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard with youngsters: Must know

There are three tickets obtainable for Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, together with a one-day single attraction possibility (which additionally permits entry into a number of the smaller free points of interest) – helpful you probably have very restricted time to discover.

In any other case, there are two 12-month choices, together with entry to 3 points of interest (plus Motion Stations) and the Final Explorer Go, which provides you limitless entry to all of the Dockyard’s points of interest for the complete yr.

You too can get discounted tickets by way of Tiqets for those who ebook utilizing my hyperlink, utilizing code MUMMYTRAVELS6, or tickets with free cancellation are additionally obtainable on Get Your Information

The Final Explorer Go is barely costlier for youngsters, however the identical value for adults, so realistically, it’s price shopping for you probably have no less than at some point to discover and wish to see multiple sight.

Opening hours fluctuate for the completely different websites and all year long – test the main points upfront, because the Gosport websites should not at all times open 7 days every week.

There’s paid parking very near the Dockyard web site in Portsmouth, otherwise you’re solely a brief stroll from Gunwharf Quays which additionally has a number of parking in its multi-storey automotive park. The Dockyard can be strolling distance from Portsmouth Harbour railway station, and The Exhausting bus interchange, plus a Park and Trip possibility which stops right here too.

View of an anchor with the Spinnaker Tower beyond seen from Portsmouth Historic Dockyard - my review

To journey between the primary Portsmouth web site and the Gosport websites for the Royal Navy Submarine Museum, and Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower, there’s additionally a waterbus operating from Wednesday to Sunday between April and October. In Hampshire faculty holidays, it runs seven days every week whereas the Gosport points of interest are open day by day, however exterior these occasions, the waterbus runs at weekends solely.

The timetable is offered on-line and it’s included with an Final Explorer Ticket. There are restricted locations aboard, and the waterbus could not run in dangerous climate. Solely umbrella fold stroller pushchairs are allowed on board; all different pushchairs and buggies may be left at one of many buggy parks at Boathouse 4, the Warrior jetty and on the pontoon.

There are a number of locations to get foods and drinks across the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard web site, in addition to picnic areas if you wish to deliver your personal meals. There are additionally bogs with child altering in numerous areas across the web site.

For extra issues to do in Hampshire with youngsters on a household vacation, in addition to days out in Portsmouth for households, take a look at my prime ideas

Disclosure: My entry to the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard was free for the needs of overview – all opinions, together with a lifelong obsession with the Mary Rose, stay my very own. This publish accommodates affiliate hyperlinks – any purchases you make are unaffected however I’ll obtain a small fee

Pictures copyright MummyTravels



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