The rich military history of the UK has created a heritage which is varied, entertaining and informative. Sites across the UK offer the perfect day out for kids of all ages, parents and their grandparents too! This series has looked at some of those dealing with the Army and the RAF. To complete the set, we now present a few of the places which educate, inform and entertain with regard to the history of the British Navy.
Mary Rose Museum
Where: The Mary Rose Museum is located in the heart of the historic Portsmouth Dockyard. The exact address is: Mary Rose Museum, Main Rd, Portsmouth PO1 3PY
Why: Above all else because it’s not every day you get to see a genuine ship-wreck, pulled up from the depths, where it had rested since 1545. The Mary Rose itself forms the centre piece of this museum, housed in a stunning building which has received more than a million visitors since it opened in 2013. Besides unobstructed views of the remains of Henry VIII’s flagship, visitors get to explore some of the more than 19,000 artefacts which were found within, and which create a compelling picture of Tudor life.
Where: HMS Belfast is officially a part of the Imperial War Museum and is permanently moored on the River Thames. The exact address is: HMS Belfast, The Queen’s Walk, London, SE1 2JH
Why: HMS Belfast was once home to more than 950 naval personnel, and is one of the most significant warships which still survive from the Second World War. Visitors can explore nine of the decks, from 15 feet below sea level to the flag deck which offers stunning views of London. Get to sit in the Captain’s chair and even take part in interactive simulations of events such as the Battle of North Cape.
Royal Navy Submarine Museum
Where: The Museum is another attraction located within the hub of the historic Portsmouth Dockyard. The exact address is: The Royal Naval Submarine Museum, Haslar Rd, Gosport, PO12 2AS
Why: The centrepiece of the museum is HMS Alliance, the only remaining British World War II submarine. Visitors can explore the submarine, from the torpedo store, through the galley, to the engine room, soaking in the sights, sounds and even the smells of life beneath the ocean waves. Other attractions within the museum include collections of photographs, plans and artefacts, as well as two smaller submarines, Holland 1 and X24. Holland 1 was the very first Royal Navy Submarine, dating from 1901, whilst X24 is the only midget submarine to survive from World War II.
National Maritime Museum
Where: the National Maritime Museum is one of four separate attractions based within the Royal Museums, Greenwich, a place which is, itself, a UNESCO world heritage site. The exact address is: The National Maritime Museum, Park Row, Greenwich, London, SE10 9NF
Why: This is the largest maritime museum in the world, packed with thousands of artefact and items telling the story of maritime exploration throughout the centuries. Sections of the museum are particularly focussed on entertaining the children visiting. Kids get to dress up as pirates, climb a look out post or steer a ship into port using a simulator. The centre piece of the museum is the Great Map, an interactive map which can be explored on foot and which includes live weather data and the chance to interact using touch screen tablets provided by the museum.