Royal Navy Submarine Museum

Jenson has a keen interest in submarines and is particularly interested in periscopes at the moment. What better way to learn all about them than by visiting a real life submarine at the Historic Dockyard in Portsmouth! 

Our trip to the museum didn't get going until the afternoon as Jenson was keen to go for another swim first! We only stayed in the pool for an hour as we had to pick up my brother from Havant train station as he was going to join us. 

The submarine museum is in Gosport. You can either drive the long way round or hop on a ferry for a quick four minute crossing and a twenty minute walk the other end. We went for the latter option on the basis that it would be more fun!  

As we walked to the ferry port we passed HMS Warrior; built in 1860, it was Britain's first iron-hulled armoured warship and the pride of Queen Victoria's fleet. Jenson was as impressed with her as the crowds in the 1800's had been. She is a very formidable and impressive ship, even now.

The Gosport ferry runs very fifteen minutes on a Sunday, which was lucky for us as we had forgotten to buy any tickets to board! It did mean the children were at the front of the queue and gave them a good view of her as she came into dock.

The crossing was quick. We enjoyed a rather damp walk in the rain at the other side, which neither my brother or Simon particularly enjoyed! The children and I were however unfazed by it and instead focused on the rather fun wall that ran the entire length of the promenade.

The focus of the submarine museum is HMS Alliance. She was built in 1945 for World War II and performed many different roles for the next three decades. She operated all over the world and was finally laid to rest in 1973. She is the last surviving submarine from World War II and is a memorial for the 5,300 submariners who have given their lives serving in Royal Navy submarines.

One of the first things we did was take a tour of HMS Alliance. We were lucky to be the only ones on the tour not least because Wren kept screaming every time the engine room fired into life and Jenson kept complaining about his ankle, that he had (lightly) sprained by falling off a wall! 

The submariner gave an insightful talk that we could just about hear over the wails of our children. When he had finished we moved through the various different rooms of the submarine. It was so cramped, it is hard to imagine that men could have lived on board with no daylight or fresh air for months at a time. 

We eventually made it to the control room where the tour got a little more interactive. Jenson in particular loved the periscope. There were actually two on board: an attack periscope that the captain would have used to organise attacks and a search pericope that other offices on board would have used to see above the water. 

The engine room was Wren's least favourite space on the submarine due to how noisy it was but everyone else was very impressed by the vast amount of gears, clocks, timers and pipes!

HMS Alliance is truly a remarkable piece of UK engineering. I hope to take the children back again in the Summer to explore it further as well as the rest of Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard.