The great Warrior is an icon today as much as it was one hundred and fifty years ago during the Age of Steam. The largest and fastest of all Royal Navy ships, HMS Warrior’s fame worldwide made her the jewel in the crown - an icon that attracted thousands of visitors during the Tour of Britain. Now, Warrior has undergone a re-interpretation, reflecting what she was like in 1863 by opening up new areas of the ship and bringing stories from the period to life.
HMS Warrior 1860, Britain’s first iron-hulled, armoured battleship and the newest member of The National Museum of the Royal Navy's fleet. Launched in 1860, at a time of empire and Britain’s dominance in trade and industry, HMS Warrior 1860 was the pride of Queen Victoria’s fleet.
Travel back in time to the Tour of Britain From the jetty to the boiler room, Warrior has been reimagined as it was in 1863. The Tour of Britain opened Warrior to the general public, giving access like never before. The event was a grand celebration of Britain’s ingenuity during a time of transition from wood to iron-hulled ships. Pick up your leaflet upon entry to follow the new layout when you arrive.
Immerse yourself in Victorian ingenuity As soon as you step onboard, the story of the great event will unfold before you. New spaces including the captain’s cabin and galley have been reinterpreted to reflect how it was 156-years ago. Authentic set dressing you can touch transports you to another time when the grandeur of Queen Victoria’s favourite ship ruled the waves.
Meet characters from the past With every room you discover and every object you hold, you’ll soon immerse yourself in a time gone by. Whether you meet a gunner getting ready for battle or a Victorian tourist who’s wowed by the ship’s beauty, history is brought to life like never before. Ask questions, hear their stories and learn the mysteries behind this iron-hulled legend.
Reporting for duty Our ‘Dockyard Alive’ team will be bringing Victorian England to Warrior as part of the reimagining. Her story is told through characters that lived, breathed and worked during the Tour of Britain. For some of the crew, it will be the first time they speak with the generous tax payers who funded their ship, for others it will be an opportunity to share a story or teach you a thing or two about life onboard. Here's a selection of who you might meet:
Agatha Robinson Tourist
Whilst her father travelled at sea, Agatha’s love for Royal Navy ships made the ‘Tour of Britain’ impeccably timed. She’s knowledgeable about her family’s connection to maritime service, the difficulties of working at sea and most importantly, finds it all rather interesting to boot.
“Father knew I had a passion for big ships - so the arrival of Warrior into Portsmouth was unduly timed but fortuitous none-the-less.”
Richard Pollard Able Seaman
Joining the navy as a ship’s boy at the grand age of 15, Richard Pollard can now be found on the gun deck of Warrior. Responsible for maintaining order onboard, he was well respected among crew but also cheeky.
“Look… I might have served 21 days in prison for ‘disgusting language’ but that’s the least of your problems. Who’s going to keep the crew in order whilst I’m gone?”
Edward Tamlin Stoker
With temperatures often soaring to 130 degrees, stokers had a challenging job keeping the boiler alight. From a young age, Edward Tamlin’s naval career started onboard HMS Antelope, serving as ordinary seaman. Now he shovels coal into the furnaces to produce steam for the ship’s engines.
“This job isn’t for the faint-hearted… and trust me when I say people have fainted. Whilst I work in cramp conditions, the pay isn’t too bad.”
Plus plenty more characters to meet We don't want to ruin the surprise for you when you arrive for the Round-Britain tour at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. We'll be adding more photos into our character gallery over the coming weeks. See if you can spot any of these characters when you visit us next.
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In 1863, Warrior undertook a publicity tour of Great Britain, showcasing the ingenuity and technology behind the ship. At a time of change for naval engineering, where ships were beginning to move away from wooden to iron-hulled, it was a chance to show tax payers how their money was being spent.
As soon as you walk towards Warrior, you’ll start to see references to the ‘Tour of Britain.’ Our curatorial team have researched every little detail, from the marketing used to advertise the event to introducing celebratory garlands along the jetty. Inside the ship, new areas are more accessible, artefacts have been added and actors placed to bring the story of the tour to life.
What changes have taken place?
We always recommend seeing the changes in person. From the smallest of details to the largest of changes, you can enjoy brand new additions including access to the captain’s cabin, galley and the officer’s toilet. We’ve dressed each space with artefacts that look correct for the time period, as well as making improvements across the ship, introducing new sensory experiences and information boards where appropriate.
Will I see all the actors onboard?
Our Dockyard Alive team will be available in some capacity during your visit. As our team work on a rota basis, not all characters will be available on every visit.
Do you offer guided tours onboard?
Our Dockyard Alive team are very knowledgeable and will be able to provide insight on their role and area they work in. Our volunteers across the ship also provide information and can help you find out more about the ship’s history.