The Last Days of Thunder Child

The Last Days of Thunder Child
War of the Worlds - spin off adaptation novel.

Thursday, 3 March 2016

I Visited HMS Warrior Built 1860 - Victorian Ironclad

I went to Portsmouth historical dockyard museum on Monday 29th February. As I said in the Victory blog; I had to leave early because my wife was ill with flu. This seemed to develop as the week went on. She insisted on another visit to the dockyard a couple of days later. This was March 2nd on Wednesday. Yesterday to be precise.

This was so we could look at some of the other attractions that we did not see before. She put on a brave face and came around the HMS Warrior with me. It was a little different from HMS Victory and we found it most interesting. The day was bitter with an icy cold wind coming up the River Solent. As we approached the Warrior ironclad battleship, I looked up at the masts and rigging and tried to imagine the sailors that may have been up in such circumstances as icy cold wind and rain. How they managed to do such a task is beyond me. It certainly would not be for the faint hearted.

HMS Warrior had beams and casing made of iron. It still had a thick teak hull, according to the shipwright who spoke to us, but the rest of the ship was supported by iron cladding over the wooden hull, plus the beam structures were made of iron too. It was a formidable vessel when launched in 1860 with her sister ship; The Black Prince. It would have been state of the art technology at the time. However she would soon be eclipsed by other battleships within a few years.

The ship never saw any action and was more of a deterrent than anything else. As my wife, Carole, and I walked about the decks we were amazed by the layout. Some of the ships many guns were muzzle loading, like the guns on board the HMS Victory, built one hundred years before. However, we also noticed that some were breech loaders too.

I heard one of the guides talking to someone as I wondered about taking photos. He said that the rank and file crew preferred to have the gun ports shut when at sea even though it made the lower decks dark. This was because the draughts through the ship could make it very cold. Even when in hotter climates of the world.

In one section I came upon one of the Ship’s guides who was a shipwright. He came out of his office and posed for a camera snap and told us some snippets of info concerning the ship. He spoke of the sister ship; The Black Prince being scrapped and broken up. The same fate awaited HMS Warrior too. However, a small sea port in South Wales was looking for a jetty/pontoon bridge. Something made of iron as opposed to wood. Wood would rot very quickly. Therefore, HMS Warrior, the Battleship that never fired a shot in anger, was sent to Wales. She was stripped of all her insides and used as a pontoon bridge/jetty from 1920s onwards.

In the late 1970s some ship enthusiasts heard of HMS Warrior’s demise and contacted national trustee organisations. The shipwright then told us that Warrior ended up in Hartlepool on the east coast of England. She was renovated to her former glory. Her old engines were re-furbished and the engine house looked fabulous. The shipwright did not say if it was a replacement engine, but somehow I don’t think it was because the huge apperatus had the old manufacturing name plague upon it.

What I liked about this grand old ship was we were allowed to just wonder about the decks at leisure and photograph whatever we wanted. We must have spent about an hour and a half on board. Outside the cold was bitter so we were encouraged to stay inside the vessel for some time.

 The shipwright posing for his photo before telling us some of the ship's history.

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