Just returned from a visit to the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Principally this was to see the new museum for the Mary Rose and as an ‘extra’ a visit to HMS Warrior.
As expected the Mary Rose was fantastic. It lived up to and exceeded my expectations. Too often I am disappointed by what I call ‘Mickey Mouse’ museums which have been dumbed down in the name of progress (sorry, but I include the recently refurbished SeaCity museum in Southampton under this category). The Mary Rose Trust have excelled themselves and I thoroughly recommend it.
The restored HMS Warrior was another breath taker. The detail that has gone into recreating the ship is astounding. The quality of the work is such that you could believe it had never spent its time as a derelict mooring barge. One of my lasting impressions was just how big and solid it felt when on the main deck. What a shame as a nation we have not preserved one of our World War Two Battleships, that would be truly awesome.
HMS Victory on the other hand was looking very much the very poor relation as she is in the middle of her major refit. Ships are referred to in the feminine tense and when one gazed upon her I couldn’t help thinking that it felt like I had caught her in the middle of getting dressed. Weird.
However, the unexpected jewel (for me anyway) had to be the 1:48 scale model of HMS Warrior in her glass case in the Dockyards main entrance lobby. This was totally unexpected and was quite unlike all the other large scale builders models I have seen over the years. No matter how grand the builders models are somehow they come across as just that, models. Perhaps it’s the too perfect paintwork or the gleaming brass work that makes them look unrealistic.
The model by William Mowll seems to have captured the soul of the real thing. It looked impressive and I am sure that if it was seen on the water under steam and sail it would look as if it meant business. A powerful, purposeful beast if ever there was one.
A credit to the builder. I hope my pictures do it justice!