I visited this popular tourist attraction when I was recently in London and I would highly recommend it. I found it very interesting. There where lots of kids visiting as it was the school holidays and they seemed to have great fun with the hats and sitting in the Captains Chair. I would say it is a good attraction for all ages.
HMS Belfast is now a museum ship, originally a Royal Navy light cruiser it is permanently moored in London on the River Thames and is operated by the Imperial War Museum.
Built by Messrs Harland & Wolff of Belfast in 1936. In 1942 she was still the largest and most powerful cruiser in the Royal Navy and most importantly she was equipped with the most advanced radar systems. HMS Belfast was immediately called into action and played a crucial role in protecting the arctic convoys, Russia’s supply route throughout the war. HMS Belfast remained protecting the arctic convoys until 1944 when she spent five weeks supporting the D-Day landings and reportedly fired one of the first shots on D-Day itself.
HMS Belfast was brought to London opening to the public on Trafalgar Day, 21 October 1971. Today she is the last remaining vessel of her type – one of the largest and most powerful light cruisers ever built. Nine decks are open to the public to explore so there is a lot to see. During her time at sea, HMS Belfast was home to crews of up to 950 sailors.
The Ships Bell
Some advice for the Sailors
The Ship’s Chapel
Rats and Mice were common aboard ships and cats were kept on board to control them until the introduction of tighter rabies controls in the 1970’s
In December 1943 the ship was given a reindeer, Olga as a gift from the Russians. Unfortunately Olga was very distressed by the gunfire during the battle of North Cape on the 26th of December and had to be put out of her misery by the ship’s two butchers.
HMS Belfast had six bakers. The Galley (kitchen)churned out hundreds of meals a day. The Galley dates from after HMS Belfast’s modernisation in the 1950’s when food started to be prepared by qualified staff and the crew ate together in a dining hall. Before this, sailors would eat their meals in the messes they lived in.
HMS Belfast had its own Dental Officer. When the ship was at sea for a long periods of time it was important the sailors had a regular check up.
The Sick Bay complete with Operating Theatre shows that the medical facilities on board were sufficient to deal with most routine operations.
This is the Provision Issue Room. The daily rum ration was one of the great traditions of naval life until as late as 1970, this is where the measures were poured. This daily ritual was know as “Up Spirits”.
The sailors lived, slept and ate in communal areas known as messes. They slung their hammocks on the bars above only 21 inches apart. This mess deck has been restored to its appearance when the ship escorted the Arctic convoys to Russia between 1942-1944.