The Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth is one of the best experiences possible for those who love British maritime history. It is the only area of the HM Naval Base open to the public, and much of the site dates to the 18th century or earlier.
Once you pass the brick entrance gate, one becomes immersed in Britain’s maritime history, from the medieval era to the end of WWII. Boasting 11 different showing areas (3 ships, 5 museums, 2 boathouses, and a harbour tour) there is enough to keep visitors entertained for weeks (with much of the museum being worthy of multiple days of exploration for the enthusiast).
Of the many visitor options available, my favourite was the HMS Warrior 1860. This historical ship sits majestically in the harbour, directly across from the museum’s main entrance and coffee spot. Wandering around the deck on a nice summers’ day is as pleasant as you can imagine and, going below deck is like descending into another world. As I travelled deeper into the belly of the ship, I was simply stunned at the level of thought and ingenuity required in order to keep something of such magnitude afloat. Each and every ship at the dockyard is worthy of emphatic attention. But it was the Warrior that really installed in me an appreciation for ships, a first for this museum enthusiast.
The HMS Warrior was Britain’s first iron hulled warship and was powered by a combination of steam and wind. A star power in the Victorian Navy, the ship was fast, powerful, and deadly. Yet for all the top of the line technology, the ship never had to fire a shot and was retired just 22 years after it was built in 1860. It remains to this day a monument to an arduous way of life where months could be spent in cramped quarters and the world around was nothing but sea and sky.Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
Sara Bohuch is currently an MSc student in Conservation Practice at Cardiff University. An emerging conservator, she has worked on many projects from private art galleries to public museums. Her interests in object conservation lie with marine archaeological material and anything organic in nature.