HMS Belfast, Dazzle And Camouflage!

Last week I wrote about our fabulous trip to the Imperial War Museum, London and how we’d had such fun checking out their new ‘Horrible Histories: Spies’ exhibition exclusively before anyone else! We had a great day and were very excited to be invited along to HMS Belfast, which is part of the Imperial War Museum, the next day!

HMS Belfast!

Now I wasn’t sure about taking two small children aboard a large ship and I wondered if they might find it a little boring? I knew I would find it interesting though so was prepared to give it a go! This summer they are hosting activities and events just like the rest of the museum and they have a new Upper Deck Bar which they wanted to show off. It sounded like a lovely day!

We arrived at the war ship, which is moored just by Tower Bridge, to glorious sunshine and the children were open mouthed with the enormity of it all. Very impressive and we made our way aboard for a private tour by the ship’s chief Kevin. Tours can be booked for groups of ten and vary in price depending on who is taking them. Kevin, being the top dog, is fairly pricey so we felt very treated and in good hands. He had a really engaging way of explaining everything and the children were all quite rapt with interest which surprised me. I had expected Florence to not want to listen and while I wouldn’t say she was 100% focussed all of the time, Kevin had a way of explaining the gruesome tales and interesting facts in such a gentle, child friendly way that she naturally took lots in and enjoyed it.

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Our tour with the ship’s chief, Kevin!

For the adults it was extremely informative and hearing tales of when the ship was first in service right to it’s present day purpose was something I had no idea I would find so compelling. The ship is the length of 18 double decker buses, sailors over 21 would drink half a pint of rum a day, on board was a jail, a medical bay with operating theatre, a shop and even a chapel which still works as a chapel today. The sailors would carry their own hammock as a bag and it would act as both of those things but also their shroud should they pass away at sea. Underneath the ship was enough storage for all of the food but they would stock up on fresh produce when they made various stops.

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The children had fun climbing about the ship which is not wheel friendly. The staff will help where they can and are happy to look after buggies for you or assist with wheel chairs where possible!

Today the ship works as a museum of course and keeping it conserved is a full time job. The museum hold a programme where by volunteers carry out the conservation work daily. We got to see some of the volunteers as we made our way round the ship learning about how and where aircraft would land on it, the operation of the gigantic guns and many other aspects. For a more ‘real’ experience models of the sailors are up as if in working mode and this especially brought it alive for the children. A great day out where the cost of stepping aboard is only applied to the adults. Brilliant education in a hands on way and as if that wasn’t enough…

HMS Belfast are running a hands on event, Dazzle Camouflage, where children (and parents) can go down into the ships basement and learn about camouflaging a ship at sea, make their own animation which will be uploaded to the HMS Belfast Facebook page and this entire event is covered in the cost of your entry.

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Joining in with the Dazzle Camouflage activity!

And if that’s still not enough then why not stop at the new Upper Deck bar for a drink in the sunshine over looking Tower bridge and the ship. You don’t have to even go aboard to enjoy a cocktail or just a coffee and a spot of lunch sitting over the river. With views to gasp at and reasonable for London prices it strikes me as a jaunt that will soon be cottoned on to by the masses and like other famous bars on the Thames in Central London, you will have to queue or book to try out. Right now it feels very quiet and intimate and on a scorching day in a summer filled London we enjoyed a stress free lunch and quenching drink as we watched the tourists throng by and soaked up the atmosphere!

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Looking over to the Upper Deck Bar from HMS Belfast and the view from it as we had an enjoyable lunch!

A very interesting, informative and pleasant day out indeed!

For tickets to HMS Belfast please see Children under the age of 16 are FREE.

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