After finishing up at the Royal Marines Museum we made a beeline for the Historic Dockyard, located on the large Portsmouth naval base.
The dockyard is a big deal in these parts and is regarded as the home of the Royal Navy. We weren’t going to be able to see and do everything but we had a shortlist of priorities. Three of the most famous warships in history are now safely tucked up here, and we were especially keen to visit one that had been discovered to have a link with my great grandfather.
So for me the afternoon had two main highlights.
1. Harbour tour
This was excellent, not too long and plenty to see. Sitting on the outside deck we were taken alongside the dockyard and base to see many of the ships berthed there. Quite a number seemed to be either out of service or not far from it and the captain’s commentary rued the gradually diminishing naval fleet.
Within a day or so of our visit this enormous section of ship, part of the HMS Queen Elizabeth, left Portsmouth for Scotland where it will be assembled.
2. Tour of the HMS Victory
The Victory is a bit of an old girl, having been commissioned in the 1770s. She had a long life before arriving in the dockyard in the 1920s. Of particular interest to us, my great grandfather’s time in the Royal Marines included a stint aboard the Victory. That she has been restored and opened to the public is fantastic. The ship is in dry dock and was undergoing some outer restoration at the time of our visit.
There’s plenty more going on at the dockyard though we limited further explorations to general walking around and shop browsing. Plus a visit to the museum of the very very historic Mary Rose, but for me this was less interesting.
While mum and dad finished their wandering I waited outside the main gate where there were more views of the third famous ship, the HMS Warrior. We forewent a tour due to our time constraints but she was certainly majestic to look at from afar.
And that was that. I’d definitely go back to the dockyard if I ever return to Portsmouth.