News

Royal seal of approval for  Historic Dockyard’s Boathouse 4

• Commemorative visit by HRH The Princess Royal comes nearly a year after successful opening of Boathouse 4.
• The team has reintroduced traditional wooden boatbuilding and training, restoring, repairing and maintaining a fleet of historic small boats and telling the story of these “Forgotten Craft”.

HRH The Princess Royal will make a commemorative visit to Boathouse 4 in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on the afternoon of Monday 20th March.

The original Second World War boathouse, which dominates the entrance to the Historic Dockyard, has been transformed by Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust (PNBPT). The Trust has funded the £5.7M project with the help of grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund (£3.75M), the Government’s Regional Growth Fund (£479K) and several charitable foundations.

Opened last year, the Boathouse has a rich heritage based around small craft in the Royal Navy. It was the workshop for building and repairing a large fleet of small boats including many landing craft which took part in D-Day. Small craft were vital for the effective operations of the Royal Navy, which needed thousands of small boats in all manner of deployments, both in war and peace time.

Peter Goodship, Consultant Chief Executive of Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust said: “Visitors are fascinated by the history of the small boats and how we are revitalising much-needed traditional skills. We are delighted to welcome HRH The Princess Royal to Boathouse 4 and for her to meet the team who have worked so hard to transform this very important building.”

The Princess Royal will view “The Forgotten Craft” exhibition which tells the story of these key vessels and then meet descendants from Coastal Forces, a branch of the Royal Navy, commonly known as “The Spitfires of the Sea” which celebrated its centenary last year.

Boathouse 4 is now home to the International Boatbuilding Training College and Highbury College’s Solent Marine Academy and The Princess Royal will see students restoring, repairing and maintaining a number of historic boats. These include the F8 landing craft from the Falklands War and Lively Lady, the yacht sailed by Sir Alec Rose around the world in 1968.

The visit will conclude with The Princess Royal unveiling a plaque in Midships, the newest restaurant to be opened on the site. Weather permitting HRH will finish the visit with a round trip of the harbour on the Second World War HSL 102, the only surviving example of the 100 class high speed launch stationed at RAF Calshot during the Battle of Britain which retrieved shot down airmen from the sea.

Closure of public galleries at the Royal Marines Museum heralds next step in museum plan

The National Museum of the Royal Navy has announced that the closure of the main galleries of the Royal Marines Museum will take place on April 1st.

As a result, the public galleries of the museum at Eastney will close. The museum will remain open for its corporate (conferences and weddings) and curatorial functions and its associated organisations * will continue to operate from the museum. The sea front car park and the Royal Marines Memorial Gardens will remain open to the public. A consultation about the Yomper statue on the seafront closes at the end of February. All existing bookings for corporate events and weddings will be fulfilled up to and including November 2018.

The decision to close is part of the development plan following the awarding, in 2016, of £13.85m from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the SeaMore project which will allow for the much-needed move of the Royal Marines Museum to Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. This has the potential of increasing visitor numbers to the museum twenty-fold.

Professor Dominic Tweddle, Director General of The National Museum of the Royal Navy said: “Of course, change is always challenging, but by 2020 we are committed to delivering a world class Royal Marines Museum which appropriately recognises the heroism and sacrifice of this elite service. The closure of the Eastney galleries is one of the necessary steps to achieve that goal.”

The new Royal Marines Museum will open in 2020 and be a state of the art museum containing the very latest in technology and hands-on activity. It will occupy the present Action Stations building, one of the original Victorian Boathouses, close to the Victory Gate visitor entrance. The main part of the building, including the historic Mast Pond in front, will be completely refurbished to provide a new museum.

The SeaMore project is now starting development work on the new galleries which will show the Royal Marines story in a new and different way, displaying around 30% more than the present museum. Current exhibits need to be dismantled, key artefacts need to be conserved and refurbished and new displays need to be worked out and planned.

The funding will also create the country’s newest national museum collection in an innovative Centre for Discovery at the National Museum’s base in Portsmouth. The project was boosted by a very welcome £2million contribution from the LIBOR fund for military-related charities.

As part of the Centre for Discovery, over two million artefacts, currently kept in 30 separate stores within 14 buildings across nine sites, will be relocated and made accessible to visitors in a bold move to revolutionise the way the epic story of the Royal Navy is told.

*Note: Associated organisations based at the Eastney Museum are the Friends of the RM Museum, the RM Historical Society, The RM Association Concert Band, and the Fort Cumberland Guard.

Was Jutland the battle that won the war?

• New date released for panel discussion

• “Question Time” panel debate on Battle of Jutland chaired by popular TV historian and broadcaster Dan Snow

• International panel confirmed

Following the centenary year commemorations for the Battle of Jutland last year, a clash considered the defining naval battle of the First World War, a “Question Time” debate chaired by popular TV historian and broadcaster Dan Snow has been rescheduled and will now take place on Thursday 2nd February.

The big debate, run by The National Museum of the Royal Navy, promises to get to the heart of a battle that has divided opinion for 100 years and takes place on Thursday 2nd February at 7pm in Action Stations, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

The battle was often considered a German victory due to the number of British lives lost, 6,094 to the Germans 2,551 however the British maintained numerical supremacy on the day.

Although the battle had a huge human cost, most British losses were tactically insignificant, with the exception of HMS Queen Mary, and the Grand Fleet was ready for action again the next day. One month after the battle the Grand Fleet was stronger than it had been before sailing to Jutland. By contrast, so shaken were the Germans by the weight of the British response that they never again seriously challenged British control of the North Sea.

The international panel will be chaired by British historian and broadcaster Dan Snow. He said: “Jutland was the climax of centuries of naval warfare, the last time two fleets of big gunned battleships contested control of the seas.”

Joining the panel is Stephan Huck, the Director of the German Naval Museum where he has curated several exhibitions including „Skagerrak. Seeschlacht ohne Sieger – Jutland. The unfinished Battle.“ Also on the panel is Naval historian Dr Andrew Gordon, author of The Rules of the Game, for many, the definitive book on the battle and Dr Laura Rowe, lecturer at the University of Exeter whose primary research interest focuses on the social and cultural history of the First World War and on the Royal Navy in particular.

The final panel member is Nick Hewitt, author, broadcaster and naval historian and the National Museum’s project leader for the blockbuster exhibition that opened in May at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard 36 Hours: Jutland 1916, The Battle That Won The War.

Director of the German Naval Museum, Stephan Huck said: “In the aftermath of the Skagerrakschlacht (The Battle of Jutland) it occupied an important place of remembrance for German society and particularly the German Navy. However it became largely forgotten in the second half of the 20th century. The centenary of the First World War led to a national recovery of the First World War in Germany and offered the chance to bring the history of the Battle of Jutland back to light.

“It gave the opportunity to describe the battle as an important turning point in the history of the First World War: despite the declared victory it prompted the decision to restart unrestricted U-boat warfare with the fatal consequence of the entry of the United States into the war.

“Now with the distance of a hundred years it is possible to objectively compare the British and the German view on the battle and the circumstances that led to it. This illuminates unexpected similarities in the navies on both sides of the English Channel at the beginning of First World War. Both exhibitions and events like this debate enable us to present both perspectives and to pay tribute to those involved.”

Nick Hewitt, curator of the National Museum’s exhibition 36 Hours: Jutland 1916, The Battle That Won The War said: “The Battle of Jutland is the Royal Navy’s defining moment in The Great War, and perhaps the largest sea battle in history. It’s the only event in the national First World War centenary programme which is wholly naval in character. As a naval historian, it’s a great privilege to be involved in a debate like this and I’m absolutely sure our visitors will be as engaged by this epic, tragic story as we are.”
Ticket buyers are being urged to submit their questions online for consideration before January 27th. The type of questions that may be posed include did the battle win the war? What of the social impact on Britain and Germany? Are blockades ever morally justified and why does Jutland matter today?

Tickets cost £10 (no concessions) are available online at www.historicdockyard.co.uk/jutland-debate or at the Visitor Centre at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard between 10am – 4pm daily.

Trombone artefact and medals of Royal Marine bandsman who fought at Jutland to be told at blockbuster exhibition

The story of a Royal Marine bandsman who fought at the Battle of Jutland a century ago is to be told at a blockbuster exhibition from The National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN).

The fragment of a trombone played by Bandsman Frederick Charles Palfreman, his medals, a photograph and newspaper clipping are now on display at 36 Hours: Jutland 1916, The Battle That Won The War, the immersive new exhibition at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

Bandsman Palfreman, born on April 1 1899 in Pimlico, London, fought on HMS Warspite at Jutland, the greatest naval battle ever fought which claimed the lives of nearly 9,000 sailors from Britain and Germany.

He played trombone in the Royal Marines Band having studied, it is believed, at the RM School of Music at Eastney, Portsmouth.

Bandsman Palfreman second from left back row

Bandsman Palfreman, second from left, back row


His son David Palfreman sent in the artefacts. He said: “My father never spoke in any detail about his experience at Jutland except to say the noise and fires were indescribable, although the ‘going round in circles’ episode with all guns blazing and the Warspite rolling alarmingly as a result had clearly been, subsequently, a source of wry amusement.

“He died in 1987, aged 88, and since then, as I’ve got older, I have so regretted not talking to him about his experience in the Royal Marines - he was so young. I remember him marching rather than walking, in the way marine bandsmen do, and beating in time to any music that might be playing. He rarely became excited but the Royal Navy Field Gun competition was an annual exception.

“I’ve had the artefacts for many years but the 100th anniversary of Jutland made we wonder if they would be of interest to an audience outside the family. I’m surprised and very pleased by the interest but my overwhelming feeling is one of pride in my dad with thoughts of how I would have behaved aged 17 in the battle - I had just started my A Levels!”

Head of Heritage and Development at The NMRN, Nick Hewitt, said: “We were delighted and very grateful to be able to borrow this extraordinary set of objects, which together make up a very unusual Jutland tale.

“I think they really make two important points so well; that everyone on a warship was exposed to the same risk, even the band, and also that there were many participants on both sides who would today be considered children.”

Visitors wishing to visit 36 Hours: Jutland 1916, The Battle That Won The War can purchase a Jutland All Attraction Package. This allows the recipient to access the exhibition and ten other attractions at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, including The Mary Rose, HMS Victory and HMS Warrior 1860, and also the Harbour Tours, HMS Alliance at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum and Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower, both in Gosport. It also gets the ticket holder entry to the Royal Marines Museum in Eastney, Portsmouth.