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UK Tourist & Leisure Attractions - HMS Belfast

Belinda and Mike - follow our tourist travels in the UK

London Visit - HMS Belfast, March 2002 - page 2

Ahoy there me hearties!  Join us for a visit on board HMS Belfast, a preserved second world war battleship moored on the River Thames off Tooley Street near Tower Bridge in London.  Part of the Imperial War Museum, HMS Belfast is an important part of Britain’s maritime heritage.
This is page two of two.
Pages: London Eye | HMS Belfast
 

HMS Belfast moored on the River Thames in London
HMS Belfast is a famous WWII battleship and remained in service for many years afterwards too.  These days permanently moored on the River Thames near Tower Bridge, it is now a floating museum run by the Imperial War Museum.

Looking forward on the forward deck of HMS Belfast
It was fairly windy up there on HMS Belfast's forward deck, perhaps a little taster of what the sailors had to endure when out at sea.  Except the Thames is, of course, much calmer than the open sea!  And the ship was stationary and not at war.

'A' and 'B' gun Turret on HMS Belfast
Looking back from the forward deck is the 'A' and 'B' gun Turret on HMS Belfast.  Well, we certainly wouldn't like to be on the receiving end of that lot!  They must have been pretty noisy when fired too.

The bridge on HMS Belfast
Now use your rear view mirror and remember to indicate when pulling out!  It all looked a bit sparse on the battleship's bridge; we expected masses of levers, knobs and switches.  And no CD radio/MP3 dock?

HMS Belfast's big gun
Watch out, enemy at 2 o'clock!  The boys had great fun swinging the warship's huge gun around; mind you it took ages to move on account of the low gearing, by the time the enemy would have been lined up they'd probably have fired first!

HMS Belfast signalling lamp on deck
Here's a picture of Belinda flashing!  It's a large searchlight with a shutter that's operated to signal to the allies in Morse Code during battle.  We wondered if it could also be used to dazzle the enemy when they're trying to fire at you.

HMS Belfast - navigational bridge
Ahoy there, Captain Birdseye!  Now Mike's keeping a sharp lookout on the other bridge on HMS Belfast.  This looked like the bridge where they did the navigation - no computers or GPS in those days of course, just charts, rulers and the phone to ring and ask "are we there yet"?  Below decks...

HMS Belfast wireless equipment room
...we found Belfast's wireless equipment room with a sailor technician repairing the kit.  Just look at the size of those old fashioned racks!  It must have been hard to work here with just that red light though.  This area was well down in the bowels of the warship, to protect it from damage during battle.

HMS Belfast's boiler and engine room
Also below decks we looked around HMS Belfast's boiler and engine room - and you thought car engines complicated!  Everywhere was a mass of gantries, pipes, gauges, boilers, gears and levers; looked like a real plumber's nightmare!

HMS Belfast control and monitoring station
Here's the control station for monitoring the ship's engine, you gotta hand it to those sailors, controlling all that lot during battle in rough seas.  Now, how do you switch on the air conditioning in HMS Belfast?  Er, NO! - don't press that big red butt...

Crew sleeping quarters on HMS Belfast, with hammocks over the mess area
Sleeping over your eating quarters means you can just drop in for breakfast.  However, eating under a sea-sick or hung over sailor probably doesn't appeal, maybe they just tied them up in their hammocks like they've done in this picture!  HMS Belfast could accommodate up to 950 sailors.

Shell and Magazine room, deep inside HMS Belfast
HMS Belfast's Shell and Magazine room lies well below the waterline and is protected by heavy armour, which was just as well as the consequences of that lot going up just doesn't bear thinking about!  The shells were transported up to the guns above by those silver tubes behind them.

HMS Belfast at sunset
It was getting dark when we finally left HMS Belfast, turning back to take one last look (and photo).  The WWII battleship remained in service well into the 60s and entrance to this wonderful historic floating museum cost 9.50 at the time of our visit.

 

HMS Belfast proved a really fascinating warship and well worth visiting, even for non-battleship geeks!

As a branch of the Imperial War Museum, the ship hosts various special events throughout the year and runs educational workshops.  At times conservation projects may mean that parts of the historic battleship are closed to visitors.

For more on HMS Belfast and other London tourist sites see our UK tourist resources.

We have some video of our visit to the battleship.

We've also visited HMS Cavalier, HMS Victory, the Imperial War Museum, Duxford IWM, RAF Museum and Bovington Tank Museum.