Friday, 2 September 2016

A Trip to the Seaside

Not all visits to the seaside involve the beach or a stroll along the prom. Not all locations in Great Britain that are by the sea can be classed as “seaside”. Miss Trebian lives in a place that falls into that category as she teaches in a secondary school on the south coast near to Portsmouth.

With the launch of the new Mary Rose exhibition it was clearly time to go and visit her. Oh, and she was back from her trip to Canada where she met her other half’s family, so we needed to catch up on that too. He’s never done the Portsmouth Naval Dockyard either, so it seemed to be a good idea to do the visit before the schools started back.

We’ve done the Dockyard twice when the children were smaller and it is an excellent day out with lots to see. Plus if you buy an all attractions ticket you can go back on other days for up to 12 months. Bargain if you live in the area. If you put to one side that it’s mostly about killing people it’s a great day out.

The whole area doesn’t just have Mary Rose, Victory and Warrior but a WW1 corvette, other small boats, the submarine museum and the delightful “Explosion” – the Museum of Naval Firepower across the bay in Gosport. This includes all manner of weapons (Nordenfeldts, Gatlings, Whitehead Torpedoes, Nuclear Bombs) as well as a good exhibit about what it was like to work in an explosives factory. You can get to this by the Waterbus from the main site, next to Warrior.


I really like Warrior. The restoration work on her is stunning, and hasn’t skimped, unless you count the Armstrongs on the gun deck being fibreglass and not iron. She’s also easier to clamber round than Victory because the headroom has been designed for normal people to stand upright pretty much anywhere. I also have some lovely photographs from our very first trip of our children aged 1 and 3 at the time in the hammocks and sitting having a packed lunch at one of the mess tables on the gun deck. I also like that Warrior was the ultimate deterrent. Most powerful ship of her time; never fired a shot in anger. That’s what you want from a deterrent.

As she is closest to the entrance we went on her first. The timing was good as there was a small arms demonstration about to start on the half deck, given by the Warrior’s expert in this kind of thing. He's a Scottish chap who doesn't think much of Chelsea fans. What's not to like?



It covered the Naval version of the Enfield Rifled Musket, cutlasses, sword bayonets, swords, pistols dirks and boarding axes.


 An excellent presentation where I learnt some things I didn’t know (although I’m sure all of you were aware of the Navy Colt’s tendency to discharge all loaded barrels simultaneously if there was any stray gunpowder about). And afterwards the kiddies can line up and get their picture taken with the authentic sidearm of their choice.



The new Mary Rose exhibition hall is at the other end of the dockyard.  That's it behind Victory. The Grey Building that looks like the Seattle Astrodome or whatever. That makes it sound like a long way, but it isn’t. It’s a pleasant stroll in the late summer sunshine. (This picture was taken from up the Spinnaker Tower later on in the day)

When we first saw the Mary Rose it was in 1990, and she was still being sprayed so you had to wear ponchos and it was cold. Next time she was in 1998 and she was being dried out. Now she is fully dried and preserved and up on her keel properly. My oh my have they done a good job on this exhibition.


You still have the display halls for the artefacts, which are well laid out and lit, with informative text and the odd bit of interactivity for the little 'uns.


The remains of the hull are now clean and dry, and restored to the vertical axis. Resplendent in its own display hall with three levels it gives you the chance to see a cut away model of a genuine Tudor warship.


On the other side of the visitor walkways they've put guns and artefacts opposite where they would have been on the ship. Due to the mirror effect of the glass panels you can almost see them in situ.


From time to time they project AV onto the inside of the hull, showing how the bits of the ship were used. It is brilliantly done.

The exhibition has cost several millions and it is money well spent. It is well laid out, beautifully presented and explains the subject really well. It is a model of how to do this sort of thing. I quite liked it. A lot.


Finally, this is the gun they found that proved they'd found the site. So, it isn't all flashing lights and fun. It's a genuine museum too.

And the restaurant wasn't too expensive either.

14 comments:

  1. Excellent review/report, Trebian.. I'm just up the coast (half way between Pompey and Chichester) but, mea culpa, I've not been... I must get down there with the grandson soon!

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    1. It's often the case with things on your doorstep. You must go - it's a great day out and as I said the ticket lasts for 12 months if you buy an all attractions one (£26 for an adult). Family ticket deals including children look very good value.

      It includes a harbour tour as well so you can see what modern ships are in too.

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  2. great write up sir - Pompeii is only an hour away from me and we try to go down every few years.

    Now the Mary Rose is all dry it has given me another reason to visit

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    1. Really you must go. Not only is it a terrific day out but the attractions (except perhaps Victory which is still in Commission) are all funded by visitor ticket purchases and donations. If we don't go it'll be gone.

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  3. My wife and I were in Hampshire in May, and we're sorry not to see the Mary Rose exhibit. Next time we're across the pond sigh...
    Peter

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    1. I think it only opened in June. Anyway, as you say "next time" and with the £:$ rate at the moment I'd say that shouldn't be too far away!

      It's a world class attraction so it deserves an international audience.

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    2. We've done the dockyard a couple of times. Loved Warrior and the original Mary Rose exhibit. We did the Jutland display in May with my dad. Too bad we booked pre Brexit, we could have saved a lot a few weeks later!
      Peter

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    3. Didn't sign up for Jutland. That might have been a mistake.

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  4. Looks a fantastic day out. Was planning to be down in Pompey one Tuesday evening in Spring for a bit of sporting entertainment, so might just take the whole day instead. :-)

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    1. I'd say that's an excellent plan. Then, regardless of what happens in the evening, your day won't be a complete waste.

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  5. Please let me know if you're likely to be in Kent any time soon. We'd be happy to show you round Chatham Dockyard and nearby attractions.

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    1. Oh yes! Did Chatham with the children several years ago. It's excellent too. Mostly I remember the rope making machine which is awesome.

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  6. Can't beat the Warrior...!

    I haven't been for a couple of years, despite being only 40 minutes away. I really should go again soon.

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    1. Yes, you should. Only 40 minutes away? The annual all attractions ticket would be a must if I was that close.

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