Enjoying the attractions of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Each time we visit Portsmouth Historic Dockyard we discover something that we’ve not visited before, and so it was on our visit last Saturday.

I wrote about our harbour boat trip, but not about the rest of our visit to the dockyard. We don’t remember having previously visited Boathouse No.4. While visitors can only view the boat repairs from above, there are soem fascinating exhibits to see. It wasn’t our plan for an early lunch, but the need for a cup of tea enticed to the excellent restaurant in the Boathouse.

It’s free to enter the dockyard, though the Mary Rose, Victory and HMS M.33 need tickets to visit. We’ll need to return to visit HMS M.33 which we’ve not yet visited. Here are a few of the photos of our brief visit – much time was taken queing for the harbour tour boat, and the boat tour itself. We recommend a weekday harbour tour.

A Portsmouth Harbour tour reveals the state of the Royal Navy

In sunny Portsmouth last Saturday we decided on a tour of the harbour, along with many other sightseers. Less crowed on a weekday, but then it possibly wouldn’t have been such a lovely warm and sunny day.

The announcer, on the boat, said that we’d missed seeing th HMS Queen Elizabeth, which had recently sailed to America. I know it was a weekend, but there didn’t appear to be any activity in the Naval Dockyard that we could discern from our tour boat.

It’ll not need saying, but yours truly knows little about naval matters, these are my observations, that’s all. I’ve written about what I’ve seen in Portsmouth Naval Dockyard, HERE, and HERE. Photos follow of Saturday’s visit.

  • The first nval vessel we encountered was M921 Lobelia, a minehunter of the Belgian Navy.
  • Next we saw HMS Medway P223.  She arrived in her home port of Portsmouth for the first time only a few days ago. She is the second of the new River class offshore patrol vessels.
  • Next we passed HMS Defender D36, one the six £1billion Daring class air defence destroyers, back in service having completed an almost 2 year refit.
  • Then we passed HMS Dragon D35, which had not long returned from a six month tour of duty in the Middle East.
  • Inside the dockyard we saw three Daring class destoyers in various stage of readiness, HMS Daring D32, HMS Dauntless D33, HMS Diamond D34. That’s five of the six destroyers not on patrol. Two of the six Dauntless and Diamond are not capable of deployment, Dauntless is classified as a training ship, and Diamond suffering from mechanical issues.
  • In various parts of the Naval Dockyard, were two redundant RFA Fleet Tankers, and survey vessel.

I appreciate that ships require replenishment, maintenance, and the crew home leave after an overseas deployment. My conclusion is that we need all of the Daring class destoyers to be operationable. With shortly to have two Elizabeth class aircraft carriers who will need to be accompanied by capable warships, not ageing frigates.


A cruise around the Portsmouth Naval Dockyard

This is the last of the reports on a thoroughly enjoyable day out last Saturday, visiting the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’s Victorian Festival of Christmas with Camberley & District Probus Club.

We plumped for a harbour cruise as our first activity at the Festival, and an entertaining and knowledgeable captain was a big help in explaining the naval ships in port.

The Royal Navy has six hugely capable, and hugely expensive Type 45 Destroyers. There were 4 of them in port that we saw on our harbour cruise. They were HMS Daring, Dragon, Dauntless, and the newest one HMS Duncan. The cruise captain also explained the history of HMS Bristol – now a permanent home for Sea Cadets and training.

Thought you might enjoy a few images of our cruise and of Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower.

Joining the queue to visit HMS Victory

This is the third of the reports on a thoroughly enjoyable day out last Saturday, on our visit with Camberley & District Probus Club’s to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’s Victorian Festival of Christmas.

Sitting majestically in the middle of Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard, HMS Victory draws you to her. And so it was that we joined the queue for a visit. We were let on board in groups, and on asking why was told the total number of visitors allowed on board was 675 [think that’s what the guide said]. The numbers of visitors leaving were counted before new visitors were allowed to board.

It’s such a large ship that there was no sense of that number on board. There was no pressure to move around the ship. The best place to linger is the Great Cabin – Admiral Nelson’s quarters – an let the guide describe in detail life in the great Cabin.

I reckon being British, it’s one of the must places to visit. Here’s my photo blog of our visit,

Vintage cycles at the Victorian Festival of Christmas

This is the second of the reports on a thoroughly enjoyable day out, where glorious sunny weather accompanied our visit with Camberley & District Probus Club’s visit to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’s Victorian Festival of Christmas.

While we were ambling through the stalls, attractions, cafés, at the Festival there often appeared vintage cycles and riders dressed in Victorian costume. We hadn’t realised that there was an area in the Festival dedicated to Victorian and vintage cycles – I say cycles, because there were quadricycles and tricycles in addition to bicycles. We’d loved to have stayed and chatted to the cyclists about the history of cycling, and their huge variety of vintage cycles on view. The lure of visiting HMS Victory precluded that conversation.

Anyway, here’s my brief photo record of the cycles,

A truly Victorian Festival of Christmas

This is the first of the reports on a thoroughly enjoyable day out, where glorious sunny weather accompanied our visit with Camberley & District Probus Club’s visit to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’s Victorian Festival of Christmas.

I hope not to lose your interest in the next few articles, as I’ll be reporting on Victorian costumes, HMS Victory, cycles of all kinds, naval harbour cruise and more.

Entry into all of the Historic Dockyard’s attractions was on offer – HMS Victory, HMS Warrior, Mary Rose Museum, and Action Stations. So much to do and see, hardly time to linger in any of the attractions.

Walking around the Festival we encountered people dressed in Victorian costume, we even had Queen Victoria greet our entry to the Festival. We lost count of the number of realistically dressed Victorian characters. Part of the fun was recognising characters from Dickensian novels, such as chimney sweeps, street vendors, Fagin’s gang, with the Artful Dodger, street urchins, and Bill Sikes, plus Nancy and Tavern girls, although we only caught a distant glimpse of Fagin.

Here are some of those characters,

Visiting Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’s Victorian Festival of Christmas

Today we’re visiting Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’s Victorian Festival of Christmas.

We’ve not been before. The ticket price includes entry to the NEW Mary Rose Museum, HMS Victory, HMS Warrior 1860, National Museum Royal Navy Portsmouth and Action Stations. We’ve not visited the Mary Rose Museum or Action Stations.

The day out also includes a Victorian Festival of Christmas, with a Christmas Market, Fagin’s Real Ale Tavern, Dickensian-style snow covered streets, a traditional Father Christmas (dressed in green) and a wonderland of Victorian characters and entertainment.

Now, this is what you can call ‘a grand day out’. Expect reports of our experiences and photo’s a plenty.