Friday, 17 June 2016

HMS Caroline Tour

 I spent a marvellous morning on HMS Caroline today.

It was dry, so I unearthed the trusty two-wheeler from the garden shed, inflated the tyres till they were rock-hard, donned the high-visibily, sleeveless jacket, the cycle helmet, and ventured forth.

HMS Caroline, a historic 1st World War light cruiser, has been moored in the port of Belfast for over ninety years.

In excess of £12 million has been spent on her restoration.

I dismounted at Alexandra Dock, purchased a ticket, and ascended the gangway.

A pair of headphones and a very helpful audio device is included.

Caroline's self-guided tour comprises the two principal decks, viz. the Upper and Lower decks.

She must have five decks altogether, I suppose, though the two below sea-level were used mainly for storage, fuel and so on.

The National Museum of the Royal Navy has installed several elevators or lifts throughout the ship.

I began my tour with a pot of tea in the Mess Deck Café on the Lower Deck.

This cafeteria also exhibits a historic recreation of a light cruiser's mess-table, ready for the ratings to get tucked in to a meal.

The Stewards' Mess

The Lower Deck also contains the cable lockers, coal store, torpedo school, engineers' workshop, signal-room; and, at the stern, the marines' mess, ward-room, officers' cabins, and officers' bathroom.

Directly below the torpedo school are the mighty engine rooms.

Ascending the steps to the Upper Deck, we observe the restored Sick Bay, galleys, the drill-room and the Captain's quarters.

Incidentally, Caroline was commanded by Captain Henry Crooke RN during the Battle of Jutland.

Captain Crooke went on to become Admiral Sir Henry Ralph Crooke, KBE, CB.

The Ward Room

Close to the forecastle (fo'c's'le) is the Navigating Bridge, with its four-inch guns, Captain's day-cabin, and "crow's nest" mounted on a massive steel tripod.

I took my time and spent over two and a half hours on the tour.

I'm in no doubt that HMS Caroline will become one of Belfast's main tourist attractions. It deserves to be.

This is a floating, historic museum which we are proud to have in the port of Belfast.


oldmanofthewest said...

Hear, hear! This is a great addition to Belfast's list of 'must visits.' My son and I went last week. I had cause to visit the ship many years ago when it was an MoD base. The transformation, or should I say, return to 1916, is remarkable. The audio visual representation of the Battle of Jutland is astonishing; as is the realistic engine vibration. I normally don't like ambient sounds. But the clinking of dishes in the wardroom pantry, amongst other things, added to the tour. We had a nice tea in the galley. I would urge a visit.

Anonymous said...

Yes as you say a ship that Captain Crooke mastered during the Battle of Jutland , in fact this is the ONLY remaining British ship out of 151 from that infamous battle , ( it's often disputed who actually won it ? decide for oneself , lives lost Royal Navy 6,094 compared with the Hochseeflotte 2,551 ) I will whisper here a fact that not too many people know about - the ship is due to be moved from it's present position in the Alexandra Dock and be tugged away for blasting and painting of the below waterline part of the hull , depending on tides and weather possibly 27th or 28th of this month , (Oct,16) So Lord Belmont might get the trusty two wheeler and camera prepared for an end October sojourn if he wishes to capture some historic images of the ship being relocated , on it's eventual return she will no longer be sited in the present position but will be moored stern in the open seaward stance as if ready to sail again to some ghostly re-enactment.

Anonymous said...

A little birdy informed me that the ship is due to start it's journey to dry dock on Fri 28th starting at 10.15 am weather depending , Lord Belmont or any follower might be interested in catching sight of this operation as on it's eventual return to Alexandra dock the ship will berthed stern inwards so never again will the ship be viewed in it's present position.