The ‘forgotten craft’ of the Royal Navy – and Portsmouth dockyard’s ‘forgotten building’ – will no longer be overlooked from next month as a £6m ‘working museum’ opens.
The renovated Boathouse No.4 will serve as a tribute to the crews of vessels dubbed ‘the Spitfires of the sea’ – and train new generations of shipwrights.
Boat-building will return to the ground floor of the huge ship hall, where RN landing craft, launches and fast boats were once either constructed or maintained.
And on a new mezzanine floor, there will be a free, interactive exhibition detailing the deeds of small boats from the days of Nelson to World War 2, as well as a waterfront bistro/restaurant.
The boathouse is one of the few surviving examples of 1930s military architecture in the UK.
The historical exhibition features a Nelsonian navy cutter with a field gun slung beneath it for transportation ashore. The stars of the show are the wartime fast craft such as High Speed Launch 102 and D-Day veteran Motor Gunboat 81.
Image: National Museum of the RN and Imperial War Museum