Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Trip Start Dec 29, 2009
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Trip End Mar 02, 2010


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Where I stayed
The Cledwyns

Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Saturday, February 6, 2010

We woke up this morning, showered and had breakfast, and then the plan was to head down to Portsmouth. Sue drove us to the train station, which was good because it was about a 10minute drive and would have taken forever to walk, especially since we didn't know where it was. Anyway, we got to the station and shortly after our train arrived. It took us a few stops, then we had to get a bus the rest of the way as they were doing work on line. All in all, the ride was just over an hour and then we were at Portsmouth harbour.

We stepped off the bus and just around the corner was the historic dockyard; home to a collection of famous old ships, modern ships and museums. We purchased a combined ticket that gave us entry into everything, as well as a harbour cruise and entry to the nearby spinnaker tower. Since the tower was outside the dockyard, we decided to do it first.

After a few wrong turns we managed to find the tower on the otherside of a fancy looking shopping centre. The tower has 3 viewing levels, the bottom one of which is 100m above sea level and has a section of glass flooring which can be stood on. It was quite a clear day so the views were good in all directions, looking out over the harbour and ocean in one direction and over the town and rolling hills beyond in the other.

After enjoying the view and walking across the glass floor, we headed back down and made our way back to the dockyard. Along the way we stopped in at a fish and chip shop and sat by the sea with our lunch. We then headed inside and planned the rest of our afternoon. First on the list was the HMS Victory which was Nelson's flagship at the battle of trafalgar. This was a guided tour, and unfortunately we couldn't take any photos. The ship however was amazing, so much more character than modern warships. We saw each deck; from the captain and admirals luxurious cabins to the cramped gun decks that also housed 400 crew members. We saw cannons and instruments of punishment, as well as the places where Nelson was shot and later died.

From here we walked through one of the museums that had models of various ships and many examples of figureheads from the front of various ships. It also had some practical activities about sailing and ship-building. There was also the Victory experience, which was a short audio-visual that explained the history leading up to the battle at Trafalgar and then walked through the actual battle showing how the British won so decisively. The final part of the experience incorporated a large painting of the battle as it would have been seen from one of the French ships not actively involved. The artist had researched extensively and so the scene, showing some 30 or 40 ships is both fairly detailed and accurate.

Our next activity was a harbour tour, which was about an hour long and took us upriver past the more modern boats in the royal navy, then down to the mouth of the river before returning to the pier. The captain gave a running commentary as we travelled around, explaing the various sites on land and giving a rundown of each boat in harbour. These included a number of destroyers and landing craft, a couple of aircraft carriers and some visiting german and dutch vessels.

The pier that we arrived back on was conveniently located next to our next attraction, the HMS warrior. The warrior is famous as being the first iron clad warship propelled by both sail and steam engine. She was not as impressive as the Victory, but had many similarities. Her armaments were still old fashioned cannons and the living spaces were very similar; larger cabins for the officers and cramped, open decks for the crew. This was a self guided tour, so we were able to wander most of the ship and explore it freely.

When we left this ship, we had about half an hour till closing time. We didn't bother with the Mary Rose exhibition (the actual ship remnants were not on display anyway) and instead headed to Action Stations. This was an interactive exhibition related mainly to the Marines. It was aimed more at kids and had shooting games, a climbing wall and lots of audio-visual stuff. The bit that interested me was a helicopter flight sim, and after waiting in the queue I had a go at it. It had a relatively short time limit though so that by the time I started to get the hang of it, it was over.

We left the museum, picked up a guide book on our way out, then returned to the bus to go home. After the bus trip, we had to wait a while for the train but eventually made it back and were picked up from the station. Our hosts were all going out to a birthday, so we had a night in just watching TV. Once they returned, we chatted for a little while before everyone went off to bed.
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Comments

Ruth on

Enjoyed reading about your day in Portsmouth. Hope Rachel is keeping well.
Love and miss you both. Mumsy.

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