Reviewed by Katie Allen
I first went to the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard when I was 5 years old and on holiday on Hayling Island and 35 years later the appeal hasn’t waned. There are so many attractions to see it’s hard to know where to go first but knowing the ticket is valid for the year takes the pressure off especially for us as we live locally and can visit even if we’ve only got a spare hour.
We visited with my two year old and our friends whose children are 9, 7 and 2. They were keen to try out the activities at Action Stations first so that’s where we headed. The older boys loved the perpetual (and leaning) climbing wall and as we got there when it opened they had it to themselves. The toddlers had a great time on the high ropes for littluns and it meant they exerted all the energy early on so we could then move on to seeing the Mary Rose.
I think the Mary Rose museum is the flagship of the Historic Dockyard. The whole museum is set up as if you’re on the ship. To the right you can see the original wooden frame and to the left they’ve replicated the other half using the artefacts they found such as cannons and chests. You can really imagine yourself on there all those years ago. The original items that have been preserved, such as shoes, belts and even a dog’s skeleton, blow your mind. They’ve even managed to “build” an Archer from his skeleton so you can now stand in front of him and look into his eyes. Spooky!
After the Mary Rose we thought we’d go on the harbour trip and see all the current warships that are being worked on in the dockyard. The commentary on board was very well informed not only with the naval ships but also the commercial vessels that use the harbour and the geographical points of interest.
You can disembark the tour at the Gunwharf Quays leisure complex. As it was nearing lunchtime we did this, ate lunch here, walking back to the dockyard afterwards. The children wanted to go back to Action Stations to do more climbing and we, feeling weary by now, were happy to sit back and watch.
By around 3pm we decided we’d head home as our friends had a long drive back.
It’s great to know that even though we had a full day we still have yet to see (amongst other things) HMS Warrior and HMS Victory and we can go back and see them at any time over the next 12 months. What a great value ticket that is!
We used the Portsmouth Park and Ride service to get to the dockyard which I would recommend. Parking is only £3 for all day, covers all your passengers and drops you within 2 minutes walk of the entrance. No more queuing traffic getting on and off of the island.
All Attraction Ticket Prices (1 year unlimited entry): £32 Adult, £23 Child (5-15 years, under 5’s free), £85 Family (2 adults, 3 children), £64.50 (1 adult, 3 children). Book online for a 20% discount.
Individual attraction tickets can also be purchased from £4 to £18 (The Mary Rose, HMS Victory, HMS Warrior 1860, HMS Alliance, National Museum of the Royal Navy Portsmouth, Explosion Museum of Navy Firepower, Royal Marines Museum and Action Stations).
For more information or to book tickets visit www.historicdockyard.co.uk.
Historic Dockyard, Visitor Centre, Victory Gate, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth PO1 3LJ