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.
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HMS Belfast was a famous battleship in WWII and remained in service for
many years afterwards too. Now at a permanent mooring on the
River Thames near Tower Bridge, it is now a floating museum run by the
Imperial War Museum.
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 probably a lot calmer than the open sea, of
course! And the ship was stationary.
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.
Now Bob, use your rear view mirror and remember to indicate when
pulling out! It all looked a bit sparse; we expected masses of
levers, knobs and switches on the battleship's bridge. And no
CD radio/MP3 dock?
Watch out Mike, enemy at 2 o'clock! The boys had great fun
swinging the warship's 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!
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.
Ahoy there, Captain Birdseye! Oh, it's Mike 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"?
Now here's the 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 into the bowels of the
warship, to protect it from damage during battle.
Also below decks we looked around HMS Belfast's boiler and engine room
- and you thought computers were complicated! Everywhere was a
mass of gantries, pipes, gauges, boilers, gears and levers; a real
Here's the control station for monitoring the ship's engine, again all
very complicated looking, and Bob thought his car was
complicated! Now, how do you switch on the air conditioning in
HMS Belfast? Er, NO! - don't press that big red butt....
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.
HMS Belfast's Shell and Magazine room lies well below the waterline and
is protected by heavy armour, which is 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.
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 historic floating
museum cost £9.50 on our visit.
We spent an interesting afternoon exploring HMS Belfast,
it was a fascinating warship and well worth visiting, even for
non-battleship geeks like us!
As a branch of the Imperial War Museum the ship hosts various special
events throughout the year and runs educational workshops.
Various conservation projects may mean that parts of the historic
battleship are closed to visitors at times.
Don't forget to check out the HMS Belfast website and
other London tourist sites on our UK
tourist links page.
We also have some videos of our visit to the battleship,
accessed from our video clips
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