A promised trip to Pompey

A Friends get-together in HM Naval Base to have lunch in the Edwardian ward room of HMS Nelson with Sunny and Bill Crouch and Clive Randall of London Docklands fame was all I could have wished. A guided tour of maritime art including murals of naval actions in this great dining hall with naval staff reminded me of the Royal Navy’s presence next door at the ORNC.

Sunny had been one of the prime movers of the London Docklands Development Corporation and Clive, who ran the Business Club, kept the public interest well and truly alive, creating this vibrant business centre with a noble heart from the very start. Sunny also served on the Council of NMM Friends. Recently, Sunny moved back to Portsmouth to jolly up and readjust the various museum attractions within the living naval base.

 

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Thus we were shown over the dramatic new display hall revealing the Mary Rose to an ever-widening audience. I was much impressed with the skills in displaying the structure of this extraordinary sunken wreck of Henry VIII’s finest great ship with a myriad of fascinating artefacts dredged from close by in the Solent – not too dissimilar to the ‘Vasa’, another great naval vessel which came to grief in Stockholm’s inner harbour. Both are great tourist attractions, as is Chatham’s historic dockyard which I must also revisit. The brand new underwater mussel-like structure contains all the gathered Mary Rose artefacts salvaged and brushed up for display. Soon the whole of the finished project will be fully open for all of us to marvel at. ‘Moored’ immediately adjacent to HMS Victory which is also undergoing a major refit with her main upper rigging away at the sail loft and nearby workshops. Remember that the Henrician dockyard became the first ever industrial complex in the country!!

Even more recent visits to similar ship yards along the Thames to catch up with the amazing new residential developments where once the Royal Navy built her ships at Deptford, Leamouth and Woolwich. It is down in Portsmouth where the splendid HMS Warrior is open to the public too. She was built just where the river Lea runs into the Thames, now the hub of Crossrail construction.

 

 

 

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Peter Kent shares his Thames riverside studio viewpoint

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