Get an experience of life as it was on the ocean waves aboard HMS Belfast on the Arctic convoys of World War II.
It has been moored in the River Thames for nearly 50 years and is as much of the London skyline as many of the famous building around her. Even her very distinctive ‘disruptive camouflage’ pattern does not stop the flow of visitors that are keen to see inside this time capsule of a warship.
This 11,550 ton, 613 feet long light cruiser with 12 6” guns was the first ship to fire salvo’s at the German forces on the morning of ‘D’ Day to Gold and Juno beaches.
Trace The Course Of HMS Belfast
Its other wartime duties had it in the icy waters of the North Atlantic on the Arctic convoys supporting the massive effort to supply vital arms to the Russians fighting Hitler on the German Eastern front. It also played a part in the destruction of the German battleship the Scharnhorst and was sent to the Far East and served a role in the Korean War too.
Not the biggest of ships of that period but perhaps it was in the right place and the right time when it was due to be retired. Seen as of historical significance in the 1960’s and was as a consequence saved from the scrap yard for a new life as a floating Navy museum.
On board the visitor will be taken back to the period around the Arcic convoys although the ship is pretty well as it was when it left the fleet in the late 1960’s.
Around the ship there are a variety of different dressed sets, which portray what life looked like on board a ship with its crew of 800 sailors. Hammocks not bunks were still in use at the end of its active days, bunks were for the officers and better more spacious cabins for the Captain and the Admiral are on view too!
Cosy mess decks for the crew, which would not have been out of place in the wooden ships of Nelson’s time either!
Certainly for a different day out in London I would recommend it for the whole family. Run by the Imperial War Museum tickets for Adults are £16 with reduced rates for children and senior citizens but I was surprised that former Royal Navy service men and women receive no discount!
There is some access for those with mobility issues but exploring the whole of the ship does require climbing and descending fairly steep ladders, there are many potential trip hazards but don’t let me put you off its certainly a different type of museum that comes to life the more you explore and not a computer in sight! The audio guides are available in English, French, German and Spanish.
The children will still love it, as I am sure any relations who were former sailors or just for a great educational day out for those wanting to look and experience a little of life above and below decks 200 plus years after Lord Nelson.