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Iconic national treasure commemorates 100 years in dry dock as National Museum looks forward to new visitor experiences across group for 2022

Published: 13th January 2022 15:50
A century after HMS Victory was moved into her final resting place, in dry dock no. 2 at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, her custodian, the National Museum of the Royal Navy has announced ambitious plans for the next step of the iconic national treasure’s conservation and a raft of new visitor experiences across the wider museum group in Hartlepool and Somerset in 2022      


HMS Victory in dry dock c 1928 at Portsmouth Dockyard credit NMRN Recently-opened walkway the descends below HMS Victory credit NMRN

One hundred years ago today, on January 12 1922, the world watched as Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson’s celebrated survivor from the Battle of Trafalgar, was towed from her berth in Portsmouth Harbour and secured into the dry dock. Dry dock 2 is a scheduled ancient monument and is itself 220 years old. 

First floated out at Chatham in 1765, Victory enjoyed a varied career but by the 1920s was in poor condition and at risk of sinking at her mooring without considerable intervention.  

Later in 1922, on October 21st, Trafalgar Day, the “Save the Victory” campaign by the Society of Nautical Research was publicly launched and continues to play a hugely significant role in securing the world-famous flagship for posterity.  

Although Victory had been a popular tourist attraction when berthed in the harbour throughout the 19th century, she was opened as a museum ship to the public by King George V on 17 July 1928 and has since welcomed more than 30 million visitors. 

Since then, she has welcomed a host of famous visitors including Royalty at dinners and balls, and survived a 500lb bomb dropped by the German Luftwaffe during the Second World War.  She remains the flagship of the First Sea Lord & Chief of Naval Staff, and is the oldest commissioned warship in the world. 

The dry dock itself is now part of a greatly enhanced visitor offer for Victory which, in addition to a self-guided tour of the ship, now includes the chance to descend into the dry dock under the enormous hull on a dedicated walkway, weaving through the recently completed and new state of the art support system. 

Next stage in HMS Victory conservation

This year the National Museum will begin the next phase of major conservation works to Victory,  intended to ensure the ship is protected for the next half century. Rotting planking will be removed from the hull and replaced with new oak, repairs made to the ship’s structural framework, and she will be fully re-rigged, in a process lasting ten to fifteen years and costing £35million. The project will provide visitors with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to see beneath Victory’s skin and experience a First Rate Line-of-Battle ship being taken through a Great Repair.

The Carrier Experience reopens at Fleet Air Arm Museum, Yeovilton – Summer 2022


An artist's impression of relaunched Carrier Experience credit Studio MB


HMS Victory now counts the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales as neighbours when they are berthed in their home port of Portsmouth and an upgraded Aircraft Carrier Experience at the National Museum’s Fleet Air Arm Museum Yeovilton will be relaunched in summer 2022.   

It will connect the heyday of jet aviation to the operations and deployment of the Queen Elizabeth Class carriers and F35 aircraft at the heart of the Royal Navy. The £1 million upgrade will create a new immersive experience which blends the best of digital technology with the scale of a carrier flight deck and incredible aircraft from the museum’s collection showcasing the Fleet Air Arm's air power from the sea' in the past, present and future.

Hugely popular Horrible Histories® Pirates exhibition transfers to National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool – opens Easter 2022

Get ready for swashes to be buckled and timbers shivered as the National Museum of the Royal Navy prepares for a pirate takeover, with the successful transfer of the hugely popular blockbuster family exhibition to Hartlepool in time for the Easter holidays.   

‘Horrible Histories® Pirates’, based on the best-selling series by Terry Deary and illustrator Martin Brown, is an internationally-acclaimed exhibition that will open in Hartlepool this Easter and is set to give youngsters an action-packed insight into the mysterious and murky world of pirates across the ages.  

As fans of the books and TV series will expect, ‘Horrible Histories® Pirates’ takes a funny and foul look into pirate history, complete with parrots, cutlasses and all the gore and more. Throughout the hands-on exhibition there will be opportunities to design pirate flags, visit a raucous pirates’ tavern, take out enemies with cannon fire and command a pirate ship on the high seas. Young scallywags can also learn the rules of the ‘pirates’ code’, delve into the often-gruesome history of pirate ships and their infamous commanders (both male and female) and they'll have to practise talking like a pirate too or risk a trip to Davey Jones' Locker.  

The exhibition has been developed in association with Scholastic UK and is being transferred to Hartlepool from Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.  The unique work of Terry and Martin comes alive in this fun-packed exhibition which has already proved to be a hit with Portsmouth audiences and is expected to delight visitors to Hartlepool this year.  


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