A young family of adventurers living by the sea

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard Review

Since being at school, Max has become obsessed with history and learning things about the past he's grown up around. So when we were recently invited to the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard to view some of their attractions, we could hardly say no!

We tend to go to Portsmouth every month to see extended family, so we tied this visit in with a stay with family and I brought along my lovely mother in law Sandi for the ride. Having lived in Portsmouth her whole life, and not visiting the dockyard for many years, she was excited to share her knowledge and fill us in on what has changed and updated.


Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is based on the seafront in Portsmouth, not too far from Gunwharf Quays and Southsea. It features everything from old ships through to play equipment and boat tours, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the seafaring life.

Opening at 10am, we headed straight through the door (after a thorough bag search) and picked up our "All Attraction Tickets" that gave us access to all parts of the Dockyard. At under £30 per person, we knew right away it was definitely value for money as not only do you get access to all of the ships, museums and activity areas. You also get to go on harbour tours and across to Gosport for more fun and games.

Not only that, but your tickets are valid for a full year so you can return and fully appreciate all parts of the dockyards. This is perfect as I know with kids, it takes ten times longer to go and see everything and you can often get dragged away from things you really want to see or read.


We decided to head onto HMS Warrior first and Max had a whale of a time exploring the entirety of the ship above and below deck. There are staff on hand to answer any questions and Max was fascinated when his nanny told him that she even went to a wedding on the ship a few years ago!

After exhausting all areas of the Warrior, we headed towards one of the Boathouses to let Max have a challenge. There are lots of things dotted around the whole of the dockyards to keep kids engaged, so when we caught wind that Max could climb a mast we knew we had to head over. Max absolutely loves rock climbing so he loved climbing the masts to ring the bells at the top. The instructors on hand were really good with him whilst he took his time and were so enthusiastic when he reached the top!


After exploring the Boathouse we decided to head over to Action Stations. Action Stations is a fantastic area that is full of action packed activities for the kids to get stuck in to. Max did even more rock climbing (this kid!) and then gave the simulators a go and finally did the dockyards own version of ninja warrior. Whilst this area was really busy, the staff were great about keeping queue times to a minimum and making sure that things were running as smoothly as they could.

Honestly we could have stayed in there all day, but by that point we were starving and wanted to get something to eat. They have a couple of restaurants on site, but we opted for the main one where there is a great selection of food from pasta to salads and fish and chips. Me and Sandi went for spaghetti bolognese, which we could have probably shared as the portions were so big! Whilst Max went for one of their kids lunch boxes followed by a slice of cake.


After lunch we decided to head to the back of the dockyards and caught a glimpse of the new HMS Queen Elizabeth. You never realise how big a ship like that is until you see it up close, it was amazing. The queue for the HMS Victory was really long and it was pretty warm outside, so we headed in to see the Mary Rose exhibition.

The Mary Rose was a ship built for King Henry VIII and in the 80's was pulled out from the sea just off the Portsmouth coast. Whilst Sandi had seen the ship pulled out of the sea, she had never seen it since so it was a real eye opener for her! It's hard to put into words how amazing it is to see a ship so old in front of you. It's definitely something that you need to see for yourself to truly appreciate and admire.

The whole museum itself was fascinating, with people on hand to help tell the tales of the people on board and to explain about things that were found and their uses. Max loved it and we are definitely coming back when his school start teaching him about the Tudor era.


After being blown away by the sights of the Mary Rose, we didn't have much time left before the dockyards closed. Knowing we didn't have time to head over to Gosport for the Submarine museum, we decided to go on a harbour tour. Not only to get some fresh air, but also to get a better glimpse of the HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Taking you on a tour of the dockyard, we had a fantastic tour guide who kept us entertained, told jokes and really engaged everyone on board. We got to see some of the working side of the dockyard, leant some of the history and saw some sights from a perspective we hadn't seen before! Whilst it was disappointing so many people stood up with IPads to take photos the whole time (seriously, one photo is enough!), we had an amazing time and it was the perfect end to our historic day.


Thank you so much Portsmouth Historic Dockyards for inviting us, we had such an amazing day and can't wait to return and find out what else there is to discover. We also did a quick Dockyards in 1 minute video of our trip!



*Note, we were given tickets for the purpose of this review, all opinons are our own.
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