One way to do Historical Portsmouth

Continuing my series of  ‘One Way to Do…’ I decided,  having seen the foreign interest in the blog through the ‘Flag Counter’, that  this edition will be as much for visitors to the United Kingdom as it is for UK residents. Hence this thread will be featuring Historical Portsmouth: or at least the historical naval connection.

We start the tour at an area on Portsmouth harbour side, called The Hard. It is a convenient place because it is also the transport hub for Portsmouth, home of the bus and coach station, the Gosport Ferry  and the South West Trains station, Portsmouth Harbour.

There is also more than sufficient car parking in the area and all well signposted.

Directly opposite the bus station is the first of the historic ships open to visitors, HMS Warrior 1860

The Warrior was Britain’s first iron-hulled, armoured warship, and her sleek black lines almost take your breath away.

Warrior, launched in 1860, was the pride of Queen Victoria’s fleet. Powered by steam and sail, she was the largest, fastest and most powerful ship of her day and had a profound effect on naval architecture.

Warrior was, in her time, the ultimate deterrent. Yet within a few years she was obsolete.

A few minutes walk will take the visitor to the entrance to Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard and once through the gates there is a modern ticket reception and the entrance for visitors to board HMS Warrior 1860

Ticket options are available for single or multiple (all) attractions and the usual discounts for seniors and children apply. It should be noted that there is no admission charge for entry to the Historic Dockyard and all the pictures featured in this blog page were taken without an admission fee being paid. Further details can be found at the Historic Dockyards website…

No visit to the dockyard would be complete without a viewing of the dockyard’s most famous attraction, HMS Victory

HMS Victory is currently undergoing a period of restoration and visitors have the unique opportunity to witness the process taking place on the oldest commissioned warship in the world and a proud memorial to Vice Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, Britain’s greatest Naval hero and his stunning victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.

Her topmasts and rigging have been struck, or taken down, and her planking is under investigation. This is nothing unusual as wooden ships like Victory needed constant care and attention from the day they were launched. These repairs are simply the latest in a long tradition of regular upkeep.

The last time HMS Victory was seen without her top masts was back in 1944, so this really is a once in a life time opportunity to see HMS Victory under-going such extreme maintenance. Interestingly, with her topmasts down, Victory will look much as she did after the Battle of Trafalgar when she had to be towed to Gibraltar for repairs.”

Apart from serving as Portsmouth’s leading attraction, HMS Victory has a traditional ceremonial role with the Royal Navy. Turn the clock back to 1988 and you may recognise a rather young Naval Lieutenant attending the presentation of the MBE, to a member of his staff, on board HMS Victory…

Adjacent to HMS Victory’s Starboard stern quarter is a well preserved, though much younger, monitor, HMS M33  – an M29 class monitor  built in 1915. She saw active service in the Mediterranean during World War I and in Russia during the Allied Intervention in 1919…

The Historic Dockyard is situated within a working Naval base and  the only place in the world to see the Royal Navy past and present. To the rear of M33 can be seen the recently de-commissioned destroyer, HMS Edinburgh,  while, just out of the picture to the right, I spotted the very new HMS Duncan

The Historic Dockyard site also houses the National Museum of the Royal Navy

Further information on this museum can be found at…

Finally, for those who may wish to, there is a booth for tickets to take a full commentary boat trip around Portsmouth Harbour just inside the Dockyard Gate, in close proximity to the main ticket office…

…from which the opportunity to see the two warships mentioned earlier could be taken, but from the harbour…

Hms Edinburgh, HMS Duncan and HMS Monmouth(?)

The Royal Marines have been an integral arm of the Naval service. They are the Marine Corps and  Amphibious infantry of the Royal Navy. The Royal marines have a long tradition with Portsmouth and it is therefore fitting that their museum is here…

Entrance to the Royal Marines Museum, Southsea, Portsmouth.

The old Officers’ Mess is now the Museums main building.

While in the Southsea area, and if time permits, there is another major museum. This is dedicated to the D-Day landings…

Portsmouth’s D-Day Museum is Britain’s only museum dedicated solely to covering all aspects of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France, on 6 June 1944. D-Day was a turning point in the Second World War, and a moment when the course of world events depended on the Allied troops taking part.

The Museum’s centrepiece is the magnificent Overlord Embroidery.  At 272 feet (83 metres) in length, this is the world’s longest embroidery of its kind, and the Twentieth Century equivalent of the Bayeux Tapestry.

Further details can be viewed at

Not all sites of naval historical interest are on the Portsmouth side of the harbour. A 5 minute ferry ride from The hard to Gosport, and a brisk 20 minute walk along the harbour shore, will take visitors to Explosion...

Interested in Explosion?

While Gosport is also the home of Britain’s Submarine Museum…


and fledgling Diving Museum…



More information is available at

That just about  concludes this guide to Portsmouth and its historical naval sites. I trust it has been both informative and of interest to all readers.


The introduction to this page concentrated on starting this tour of Portsmouth’s Naval Heritage sites from The Hard and its public transport hub.

For those wishing to visit Portsmouth by road and private car there is more than sufficient car parking facilities when entering the city.

For those following the main route into Portsmouth follow the Historic Dockyard signs. The first major car park is approximately 10 minutes walk from The Hard…

while there is another more convenient park just 5 minutes away on the same route…

Car Parking close to Dockyard entrance

Just 200 metres past The Hard there is a major car park to the right: follow signs to Gunwharf Quays car parking.

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