Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is situated within Her Majesty’s Naval Base Portsmouth, on the Hampshire coast. Home to the British Naval Fleet since Tudor times, the base still looks after 66% of the British surface fleet; it was once the biggest industrial site in the world. Visitors to the Historic Dockyard have access to the Royal Naval Museum, HMS Warrior, the Tudor frigate Mary Rose, and Nelson's flagship, HMS Victory.
Upon arrival, visitors to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard cannot help but be overawed by the hulk of HMS Warrior towering over the gateway to this unique UK attraction. Built in 1860, HMS Warrior was the biggest, fastest and most heavily armed warship in the world, however she did not fire a single shot in aggression, but instead acted as a symbol of British power at the height of the Empire. Within ten years of coming into service she was rendered obsolete, her technology surpassed in the heady days of the Industrial Revolution. HMS Warrior spent the next half a century moored up in Milford Haven and used as an oil jetty. Warrior returned to Portsmouth in 1987 and was restored to her former glory, and now welcomes visitors (and wedding parties) to get a first hand glimpse of British naval power and life in the middle of the 19th century.
The Mary Rose is the only 16th century warship on display in the world. One of the first ships to carry heavy guns, Mary Rose was one of the first ships in history to carry heavy guns, and was a favourite of serial husband King Henry VIII. However, Mary Rose went the same way as most of Henry's marriages and sunk during an engagement with a French invasion force in 1545, right before the monarch's eyes. In 1982 Mary Rose was raised from her watery grave and is now on show in a special unit where she undergoes continuing restoration work.
Nelson's flagship HMS Victory is the oldest commissioned vessel in the British Navy, and the world, and undoubtedly the pinnacle of any visit to the Dockyard. Built between 1759 and 1765, Victory was a 100 gun first rate ship of the line, with an overall length of just over 69m, she was home to a compliment of 850 men in times of war. HMS Victory saw action off the shores of Europe, most notably at Ushant and Cape St Vincent, but it was not until the Battle of Trafalgar, as Nelson's flagship that she smashed her way into the annals of history as she led the charge into the French and Spanish fleets, in a victory that saw the death of Horatio Nelson and the salvation of the UK. Today visitors are taken on a tour of the ship, immaculately preserved, where they can see the exact spot where Nelson fell, and where he died, in the cramped conditions below deck.
Elsewhere in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard the Royal Naval Museum provides visitors with a fascinating insight into British naval history, from the launch of the first Dreadnought class vessel, up to the Falklands War and beyond. There is also a large exhibition devoted to the Battle of Trafalgar, matched only by that at the British Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
By rail (from London Waterloo), coach (London Victoria) or bus to Portsmouth Harbour Station.
By car via the M27, A27 and M275. Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is well signposted and there is ample parking within easy walking distance.