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Victory Gate, HM Naval Base, Portsmouth, PO1 3LJ
02392 788 060
£26 (adults); £19.75 (child); £24.25 (conc); £72 (fam)
Daily 10 am - 5.30 pm
Featuring the brand new exhibition Hear My Story, the recently opened Mary Rose Museum and world famous ships HMS Victory and HMS Warrior (1860), Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is a great day out for all the family.
With 800 years of history and encompassing the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Action Stations and Harbour Tours, there's plenty to see and do.
Situated within a working Naval Base, the Historic Dockyard is the only place in the world to see the Royal Navy past, present and future - a must for anyone visiting the south of England.
Times and prices are subject to change. Contact venue before setting out.
I've had a ticket for about 6 months now, and I've visited several times, it's nice to be able to pop in whenever we're at a loose end, and if we visit Gunwharf we very often have lunch in the Boathouse as it's a lot less crowded. I visited last weekend to see the new exhibition Hear My Voice which is in the National Museum of the Royal Navy. This is a lovely exhibition and the children enjoyed the new play area which has a boat they can climb all over and a large brass bell they enjoyed dinging (I suspect the staff will at some point want to muffle that) and lots of brand new dressing up clothes. There were some interactive games too. These aren't signposted as you go in and they are towards the back of the room so not immediately apparent so the kids were a bit bored initially until they found this area.
One new (well newish) development is that you don't need to get a time slot for the Mary Rose Museum any more, it's now free flowing like the other attractions which makes it much easier to visit.
We love this place and will probably buy tickets again next year as there are so many family events throughout the year to attend.
I took my family to visit the Historic Dockyard for the first time yesterday (19/10/13). It's something I have been meaning to do for a while, but had always been concerned about the cost - until I realised that the ticket price includes entry for a whole year! Having realised that, and having been told that there were a lot of child friendly activities I thought the time was right to visit. I took my 5 year old daughter and my 11 month old son.
On arrival we immediately had a cup of tea and a piece of cake in Boathouse No.7 as it was raining heavily. This is a large café with plenty of seating and lots of highchairs available. Babychanging facilities were available and very clean. The cakes were delicious and fresh.
We moved on to The National Museum of the Royal Navy and my 5 yr old enjoyed this particularly as there are a lot of interactive exhibits including a barrel she could get inside and mock rigging so she could have a go at hauling a sail. Lots of touch screen displays and models for her to look at and refreshingly, it was the adults who wanted to leave before she did.
We then moved on to have lunch in the outdoor picnic area outside the Mary Rose Museum which is under cover and has views of HMS Victory. There are good toilet facilities here as well and an excellent disabled toilet which doubles as a changing facility.
You can't take pushchairs onto HMS Victory (just not practical) and there is a buggy park fenced off just before you enter. A lot of people just abandoned their pushchairs, we locked ours to the fence - although there are staff on the gate checking tickets, they are not watching the pushchairs, so be aware that you will need to leave it if you visit this attraction. Also the park is not undercover so we left the rain cover on just in case it rained whilst we were on board.
We visited on a day when there were family activities available including colouring and dressing up. My daughter dressed as a sailor and had her picture taken with Captain Hardy. You can check the website for events to see when this kind of thing is on. The ship itself is beautifully maintained and you can walk around the majority of it and see pretty much everything from the deck to the hold. It is a tight space and if you're tall you might struggle a wee bit, but we all thoroughly enjoyed it. It took us about an hour to go around.
We then went to see the Mary Rose Museum as our time slot came up - you need to book a time slot when you enter the dockyard, as the museum is new and extremely popular. The museum is excellent but we didn't get to see much of it as the lighting is kept low to prevent the exhibits deteriorating - and neither of the children were keen on that and wanted to leave. I want to go back again without the children and really take it all in as I didn't get a chance to look at anything properly. Traditional displays are combined with footage of the raising of the Mary Rose and talks about the preservation of the ship. The ship is surrounded by the museum and you can look at it though viewing windows all the way around it. There is also a nice café and a good gift shop on the way out.
We thought we needed to find something very child centred next and so we popped into the Victory Gallery in the National Musueum of the Royal Navy. There we found The Cabin Room which is a fantastic little room just off the main exhibits completely kitted out for the under 5s. The room is fenced off so children can't crawl/wander out and there is space to leave your pushchair just outside, in view. There are lots of marine inspired toys, playmats and activities. There is a set of drawers each with a different activity in and a coat stand hung with dressing up outfits. The room is decorated with hand knitted fish and is a really lovely space for the children to relax and play. We spent a good half an hour in there whilst my daughter coloured in some posters and dressed up, and my son crawled around on the soft play items.
By this time it was nearly half past four and so we headed to Action Stations to see what was available there. This is an amazing space for older children with two climbing walls - one static and the other is a moving wall that moves down as the children climb up and the angle can be tilted. The other requires the child to wear a safety harness. I thought my daughter wouldn't be interested in either, but I was pleasantly surprised when she wanted to try the moving wall and she had a good go at it. You can go on as many times as you like, you get a two minute slot and just have to queue again. There are lots of simulators in Actions stations and a particular favourite was the flight simulator. Again there is a café and toilets and lifts for pushchairs and wheelchairs. Upstairs you will find lots of exhibits about communication and more importantly (according to my daughter) a giant connect 4. I have to admit we spent more time playing connect 4 and giant jenga than looking at the exhibits but because we can come back any time, we felt less pressured to see everything at once.
We finally left when the attraction closed, having not seen HMS Warrior. My daughter is pressing me to say we will go back again soon, I can honestly say, yes, we will!
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