In 1938 on St Patrick’s Day, the HMS Belfast was officially launched and was shortly after commissioned into the Royal Navy. The ship went on to protect and defend from the waters, supporting troops during the D-Day landings, and even playing an active role in the Korean War.
Now, the naval cruiser warship can be found on the River Thames. The HMS Belfast sits opposite the Tower of London and is a member of the Imperial War Museum family. By exploring the ship’s nine decks with an audio guide in hand, you will get a close look at the compact vessel where a crew of up to 950 men called home.
The design of the ship is not one you would expect to find on a luxury cruise. The corridors are narrow, the ceilings are low, and there are many hazards and obstacles overhead and across the floors. As you explore each deck level, you will have to climb up and down the ladders the same way sailors did during the wars.
Having a laundry room, a mailroom, a chapel, and a dentist at sea meant the Royal Navy could maintain as normal a life as possible. Mannequins recreate scenes and props are positioned to illustrate how each small space was used while you follow the route and listen to stories from its days in battle.
On display in the NAAFI Canteen, you will find well-loved treats, such as Kit Kits and Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bars, in their vintage form. Below sea-level, you will find an intimidating stock of supplies in the Shell Rooms, and the intricate Engine Room where the technology of the day powered the HMS Belfast at top speed.
Some video screens can be found around the ship, but the Interactive Point will you provide you with the best opportunity to ask questions and learn more about life on board the HMS Belfast. This means that the boat’s environment can be maintained and the stories can be told as authentically as possible.
The Walrus Café can be found on the upper deck, and the gift shop is located at the attraction entrance and exit, giving you the opportunity to buy replica memorabilia or souvenirs. Audio guides are available in English, French, German and Spanish, and a family audio guide is also available.