Portsmouth UK. 2 more great museums.

by John

Not strictly museums.  Ships actually, but displayed as museum pieces.  Both incredibly interesting.  And I am not including Nelson’s “Victory”.  I had seen it 40 years ago, and after 5 hours of walking, my knees told me that enough was enough.

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“Victory” as seen today.  Still the biggest crowd pleaser.  Now sitting on props in a dry-dock.

My main targets today were “Warrior” and the “Mary Rose”.

Warrior was built in 1860.  The age of steam was well underway.  But to date, warships were still sailing ships.  However the French were rebuilding their navy after their humiliating defeat at Trafalgar, and they had built the first propeller driven, steam powered, iron clad (wooden ship with steel plate cladding).  The Brits were not going to stand for that, so they built “Warrior”.  The most powerful, fastest battleship afloat, and more than a match for anything else in the world.  By the time it was built, the French and the Brits were allies, for a while.  Warrior was destined to never fire a shot in anger.

Today it sits moored at Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard, and is a fascinating mixture of steam and sail, muzzle loaders and breech loading guns, Steel and wood.  It is a big ship, 127.5m (418′) long, and 9210 tons.  It looks a little odd to our eyes because it has no superstructure, except 2 funnels, and the foremast and mainmast are widely separated.

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Steel framed, 18″ of oak lined, plus 4.5″ of steel plate.   The masts are steel, with wooden upper sections.  The figure head is a Greco-Roman warrior.   706 crew.

This ship could make 14.4 knots (27.7kph) under steam, 13 knots (24kph) under sail, and 17.2 knots (31.9 kph) with sail plus steam.  Not as fast as a clipper, but much faster than any other warship.

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4.5″ (114mm) armour plating, plus 18″ (460mm) teak planking.

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Traditional spoked steering wheels were duplicated on 3 decks.

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Hundreds of Lee-Enfield percussion cap rifles were available.

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And cutlasses, to repel boarders.  Muzzle loading cannon tools to left.

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And Colt 45’s for the officers.

But the main armament was of course the big guns.

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The gun deck was similar to that of the 120 year older Victory.   except that these are huge 68 pounders.  19 man gun crew for each.  A mixture of 10 x 110lb breech and 26 x 68lb muzzle loaders.

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And the crew still slept in hammocks on the gun deck.  And ate there.

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But they had washing machines  and lavatories (first ever warship with these)

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and baths!

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The steam engine, surprisingly was a relatively primitive, but powerful twin cylinder, single expansion, horizontal trunk engine of 5469hp, driving a single propeller.  The 10 boilers were box shaped, double firebox, no fire tubes.   22 psi only.

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Coal was delivered in small coal trucks on rails, and shovelled into the firebox’s.  No gauges,  except in engine room.   853 ton coal stowage.

I have many more photos of Warrior, but I am down to my last few megs of storage, and I want to show some pics of the Mary Rose, which is probably the most stunning museum display I have ever seen.  I know that I keep saying that, but this really is…..

Mary Rose was a 35 year old warship which sank in 1545 during the battle of the Solent, against a huge French invasion fleet, while Henry 8 was watching.  No-one really knows why it sank, but the most popular theory is that bigger cannons had been installed, requiring low gun-ports to be cut into the the hull, and that after firing a broadside the ship had turned and the open gun-ports shipped a lot of water, which sank the ship.   Whatever, the ship was unable to be raised. Most of the hull gradually rotted and broke away.  But the parts which were under silt did not rot, and were still there when discovered over 3 centuries later.  In 1985 the remains were raised, and painstakingly preserved.  A museum to house the remains was specially built.  And it is stunning!  No other word for it.  Here are a few pics from today.

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Mary Rose.  Pride of the English fleet.

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and you know who.

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About 1/3 of the hull remains, including most of the keel.

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The bronze cannons are in fairly good shape.  Only real remains are displayed.

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This is a breech loading iron cannon, made of strips and hoops of iron.  The ancient wood and iron has been treated for years with PEG (polyethylene glycol) before going on display.

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Hundreds of ewe long bows were found, many still in their storage boxes.

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And many skeletons.  This one was a bowman.  That humerus (upper arm bone) is massive.  There were 35 survivors out of the many hundreds of men on board. 

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And a reconstruction of the bowman.

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And sadly, a dog.

A most remarkable museum.  Add it to your bucket list.  Allow at least 2 hours.