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The gates are open: Step into Portsmouth’s Historic Quarter with new free pass

Published: 2nd November 2021 11:12

Newly launched Historic Quarter Pass enables free access to 12 acres of Portsmouth’s iconic dockyard 


The Historic Quarter Pass will enable the community to re-discover historic buildings, boats, shops and restaurants, while soaking up the dockyard’s atmosphere

To celebrate re-opening the gates, Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust will host several free experiences on iconic naval vessels across the 2nd and 3rd November, including VIC 56 and HMS Sabre

Portsmouth’s Lord Mayor to attend and celebrate the new free pass on Tuesday 2nd November from 10am

Today (2 November 2021), the heart of Portsmouth’s heritage is once again open to the public free of charge with the introduction of the Historic Quarter Pass. Introduced by Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust (PNBPT), the free pass allows access to the Historic Quarter at the dockyard.

PNBPT invites the people of Portsmouth and from further afield to walk in the footsteps of their ancestors while discovering all that is new in the Historic Quarter.

“You will experience many of the sights, sounds and smells that enveloped the dockyard for hundreds of years, while discovering new creations, exhibitions and installations that we’ve introduced within the historic grounds and buildings in recent months,” commented Hannah Prowse, CEO of the PNBPT.

“It’s our mission to make the Historic Quarter at the dockyard accessible for everyone, where you can interact with active historic boats, tour the bustling boathouse, or simply soak up the atmosphere. The dockyard is yours to explore and enjoy.”

To celebrate the launch of the new pass, on 2nd and 3rd November, HMS Sabre* will be on the pontoons by Boathouse 4 offering free visits, VIC 56 will be in steam and available for passengers to board. The newly launched and popular visitor attraction  F8 Landing Craft will be running excursions around the harbour, subject to fair weather for £10 per person.

The Historic Quarter Pass grants free access to:

 Living, breathing Boathouse 4

Watch experts and volunteers in action alongside students of the International Boat Building College as they meticulously restore historic boats, echoing the building’s original purpose 80 years ago

Spot scars that remain from World War 2 shrapnel: glimpses of light through the corrugated iron elevation

Visit the restaurant overlooking the harbour which is open for lunch on 2nd and 3rd November and for festive lunches throughout December. You may even witness a modern-day war ship sail past from the neighbouring HM Naval Base

Access through Boathouse 4 to the harbour and the historic military boats on the pontoons

Home of art and history, Storehouse 9:

Sneak a peak at the latest creation from the resident artist, Pete Codling, currently working on his largest drawing to date for ‘CROWD, portrait of the city’: life size sail drawings inspired by Portsmouth

Visit one of the UK’s most historic shops: the 500-year old Arthur Beale Chandlery, recently relocated from London’s Shaftesbury Avenue

Boathouse 7:

Discover how Britain’s oldest Royal Dockyard led innovation throughout the ages in The Dockyard Apprentice exhibition

Historic Quarter grounds:

Stroll through 12 acres of historic dockyard where you’ll spot several moments in Royal Navy history, from statues of significant figures to artifacts and machinery

Grab a coffee from the Mary Rose Cafe and sit by the magnificent HMS Victory**

Walk through the brick arches of the over 250-year old Storehouses, built to store essential equipment for Nelson’s Navy.

Prowse added: “After an incredibly challenging 18 months, it’s a brilliant milestone for us to be able to grant free access to the Historic Quarter for all to enjoy. We are incredibly grateful to all those who’ve visited the grounds since August 2020. As a charitable trust, the support from visitors was vital in keeping us operational during the pandemic and maintaining the livelihoods of many businesses and partners at the dockyard. But now, it’s time to ensure our rich heritage is given back to the community; history should be enjoyed and made accessible to all.”

As guardians and custodians of the estate, PNBPT is responsible for the conservation and sustainable restoration of buildings, boats, and structures of outstanding architectural and historic interest at the dockyard. Their mandate is to repurpose and make accessible all that the estate offers for the use and enjoyment of future generations. 

Councillor Ben Dowling, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Economic Development, welcomed the introduction of the Historic Quarter pass, saying: “Portsmouth’s historic dockyard is a vital part of our city’s heritage and infrastructure. We are delighted to see it being opened up to the local community once more. We share PNBPT’s vision of the dockyard as a destination to enjoy, alongside the cultural attractions of the museums on site.”  

Visitors can continue to purchase tickets to enjoy the experiences available at the world-class attractions located within the estate, including the National Museum of the Royal Navy, HMS Victory and HMS Warrior, and the Mary Rose Museum.

The Historic Quarter Pass is available to collect during standard opening hours from the Dockyard Visitor Centre.

*HMS Sabre will be available for visits on Tuesday 2nd November and VIC 56 all day Tuesday 2nd and Wednesday 3rd November.

**Tickets to enter the HMS Victory are the Mary Rose Museum are available here

For more information visit:  

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