FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Posted in England, Portsmouth by folkestonejack on October 13, 2012

After watching the two US warships arrive we took a walk around Old Portsmouth in search of a suitable watering hole, ending up at the Still and West for some terrific sea food washed down with Fuller’s autumnal Red Fox ale. In the nineteenth century the area was notorious for prostitutes and pressgangs but thankfully today it is mostly just tourists like us wandering the streets!

Suitably refreshed we headed down to the Historic Dockyard at Portsmouth to see HMS Warrior, take a harbour tour and check out the Trafalgar Sail (before it is removed from display in October 2012 for further conservation).

It was particularly fascinating to see a vessel of HMS Warrior’s vintage as one of my distant relatives, Ernest Lionel Carpenter (1847-1887), served in the Royal Navy through the 1860s, the decade in which this ironclad warship thrived as “the largest, fastest and most powerful warship in the world”. You really sense the changing technology as you walk past the boilers and furnaces deep in the ship.

I can’t begin to imagine how tough life was on board a ship like this for an able seaman such as Ernest, let alone a stoker working down in the boiler room in temperatures of 120 degrees fahrenheit. I don’t think I would have lasted long in any capacity!

There was no pressure to race round the site as the tickets are valid for 12 months. I have no doubt that we will be back next year to see the remaining attractions, including the new Mary Rose museum which is due to open in early 2013.