Must-See Maritime Museums
Britain’s maritime museum scene is bursting with naval history and many of these hotspots are within an hour’s drive of our campsites. Fun for all the family, the UK’s proud nautical heritage connects generations. Get set for an adventure at these must-see maritime museums.
1. The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich
50 minutes from our Theobalds Park Club Site, the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich is the world’s largest naval museum. Boasting a vast collection of artworks, maps and charts, memorabilia and thousands of other items of interest, this iconic museum offers free entry all year round.
The exciting AHOY! children’s gallery is a great way for kids to enjoy a nautical adventure and be inspired. They can dress as pirates, climb a look out post and even steer a ship into port on the amazing ship simulator.
The museum is home to the Cutty Sark, the world’s sole remaining tea clipper. Dating back to 1869, she was the fastest clipper ship of her time and is now an award-winning attraction in Greenwich.
This legendary 19th Century sailing vessel sits three metres above the ground so that you can experience an awe-inspiring walk beneath the hull of this magnificent ship, marvelling at its size and intricate structure. It’s an exhilarating piece of nautical engineering worth appreciating.
2. The National Maritime Museum, Cornwall
A 40-minute drive away from our Veryan Club Site is the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall. With an incredible 15 galleries over five floors, the museum is home to a veritable mix of maritime paraphernalia and has fun-filled events taking place all year round.
From 7 March, 2017 – 7 January, 2018, the all-new ‘Captain Bligh: Myth, Man and Mutiny’ exhibit will unravel the mystery of Lieutenant William Bligh in the 200th anniversary year of his death. Bligh’s gruelling tale of mutiny and the building of his boat, the Bounty, is brought to life as a stunning recreation. Get set for adventure.
The interactive Tidal Zone is a hit with all ages, too. Nowhere else in the UK can you get a view of life under the sea like this, it’s truly jaw-dropping. Through two large windows you can gaze out across the harbour, watching the rise and fall of the tide and see sea creatures in their natural habitat. It’s a breathtaking experience.
3. The Mary Rose, Portsmouth
The Mary Rose Museum in the historical docklands of Portsmouth is home to Henry VIII’s once majestic warship. The vessel was swallowed by the sea in 1545 and lay undiscovered until 1971. In 1982, the ship was raised from its watery grave and ever since the Mary Rose story has been told worldwide.
Haunting and mysterious, the tale of the Mary Rose will leave you gripped, while the 19,000 artefacts that have been recovered since it was brought to the surface, and are now on display, will pique your interest and give you an insight into what life was like on this magnificent vessel. It really is a true Tudor treasure trove.
4. The Historic Dockyard, Chatham
Our Oldbury Hill Club Site is a 30-minute drive away from the Historic Dockyard in Chatham, which is only 35 miles from the heart of London. The Dockyard is home to three historic warships - HMS Cavalier, HM Submarine Ocelot and HMS Gannet. The site also features in the hit BBC drama, Call the Midwife, with onsite tours of the set available.
It’s all hands on deck as you discover how ships, like HMS Victory, were designed and built, while there’s also the opportunity to climb aboard a sloop, a destroyer and a submarine. The Victorian Ropery is riveting. It’s the only Royal Navy Ropeyard that still operates today. There are plenty of secrets to uncover too as you explore the Dockyard’s grand galleries.
5. Dundee Heritage Club, Dundee Antarctic Exploration
Suitable for all ages, the Dundee Heritage Club is a 35-minute drive from our Scone Club Site. Learn about the epic adventure of RRS Discovery and the ship’s crew that ventured into the unknown of Antarctica risking frostbite, snow blindness and polar conditions to discover more than 500 new marine animals, spiders, shrimps, starfish and shellfish.
This attraction is perfect for life’s explorers and adventurers. Investigate the innards of the RRS Discovery and tour the deck to get a fascinating insight into one of the most heroic voyages to ever take place on earth. Get set for an Antarctic adventure.
6. SS Great Britain, Bristol
Described as one of Britain’s finest visitor attractions by the Mail on Sunday, the SS Great Britain attraction is 40 minutes away from our gorgeous Cheddar Club Site. A jewel in the crown of UK maritime history, the story of this beautifully preserved sailing vessel is told via an incredible interactive experience that will captivate all ages.
A feat of nautical engineering, the SS Great Britain is regarded as a ship that changed the world. The vessel’s designer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, fitted SS Great Britain with a screw propeller, the newest invention in maritime technology at the time.
Visit the dockyard museum to discover the action-packed adventures that this great sailing ship embarked upon and how it became the first iron steamer ever to cross the Atlantic. Relive a piece of nautical history that dates back to 1843.
7. U-Boat Story, Merseyside
Witness all the dramatic action aboard a cross section of a German U-534 submarine that was attacked by RAF 547 squadron aircraft while heading for Norway. Relive accounts of life on-board this vessel, which takes you on an interactive journey featuring an original film archive.
Split into four sections with glass viewing, you will be able to look into the belly of this beast and investigate its incredible interior. Discover amazing, well-preserved artefacts that paint a picture of life on a submarine during war time. Fascinating and mysterious, the U-boat story attraction is one of the UK’s maritime museums not to be missed.
Just a 40-minute drive away from our Delamere Forest Club Site, the U-boat story is easily accessible. Alternatively, while you’re in the maritime mood, hop aboard the Mersey Ferry Cruise and gain free access to the exhibit. You can even take in other attractions, including The Beatles Story and the Spaceport.