A couple of weeks ago, I decided to visit HMS Belfast, the WW2 ship moored on the Thames near London Bridge station. I’d got a Tesco Clubcard voucher which was about to expire, and thought I should use it up sharpish! Unfortunately the Sunday I visited was one of the hottest days of the year, and I can tell you it got pretty warm inside the ship. Nevertheless, I enjoyed my visit.
HMS Belfast is run by the Imperial War Museums, and information can be found on the same website. The ship was built in Belfast and launched in 1936. Hit by a mine in 1939, she had to undergo thorough repairs before returning to service in 1942, helping to protect Arctic convoys (Russia’s wartime supplies) and playing a crucial role in the Battle of North Cape. She also played a key role during the D-Day landings. HMS Belfast is the last remaining ship of her type in existence, and has been in position on the Thames for over 40 years.
Outside the ship it was hot, but inside it was even worse – hot and stuffy. The filmed ‘battle’ on the gun deck was highly entertaining, though. When I reached the ship proper, I was amused to find this sign:
I found the waxworks on the ship rather creepy, particularly this grim-looking fellow. Others could be found baking in the kitchen, manning the controls and lying in hammocks.
I ventured down to the bowels of the ship to explore, which involved a good deal of climbing up and down ladders (and is not recommended for young children). This would have been more fun if it had been less warm. I wasn’t entirely comfortable with being below the waterline, and was rather glad to be back on deck.
Even if you’re not really into naval history, HMS Belfast is a good place to visit, as there is lots to see (including a number of small exhibitions inside the ship). I enjoyed it – especially as I got in for free!
Address: The Queen’s Walk, London, SE1 2JH
Opening Hours: 10am-6pm
Prices: Adult £16, Concession £12.80, Child £8; under-5s free