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Major commemoration plans for Battle of Jutland centenary

The National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) is excited to announce its major contributions to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of Jutland for 2016, highlighting the pivotal role played by the Royal Navy.

This follows the Government’s plans to mark the milestone which were released earlier this week.

Commemorative events for Jutland 2016 start in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard with the formal opening, on May 24th, of a blockbuster exhibition “36 hours: Jutland 1916, The Battle That Won The War.” As well as being a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring together material from across the UK and Germany, the exhibition is linked to the other significant NMRN launch in 2016, namely the opening of HMS Caroline in Belfast.


HMS Caroline is the last survivor of the battle and following the receipt of the largest Heritage Lottery Fund grant awarded in Northern Ireland, the ship is being transformed into a world class heritage visitor attraction in time for the national centenary commemorations of the Battle of Jutland on 31st May 2016.


Head of Heritage Development at the NMRN, Nick Hewitt, 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, and at the NMRN we’ve pulled out all the stops to put together a comprehensive and exciting programme of activity to mark it. As a naval historian, it’s a great privilege to be involved in a once-in-a-lifetime event like this, and I’m absolutely sure our visitors will be as engaged by this epic, tragic story as we are.”


Director General of the NMRN, Professor Dominic Tweddle, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with the Department of Culture, Media and Sport. One hundred years after the fleets of the Imperial German and Royal Navies fought the defining naval battle of the First World War it is essential that we mark and commemorate the incredible sacrifice made. Our Great War at Sea 1914-1918 programme of exhibitions and events is succeeding in demonstrating that the First World War was also fought at sea around the world and that our Naval supremacy ensured that the war was won.”


Director of Visitor Experience at the NMRN, John Rawlinson, said: “The story of the Battle of Jutland is a dramatic one which few know about. However it was the battle that won the war. Whilst debate rages as to who was the decisive victor, one thing is sure, it changed the course of the First World War and ultimately led to the British defeating the Germans.”


The NMRN is working in partnership with the Imperial War Museum for the exhibition. This, with the opening of HMS Caroline, will make a massive contribution to visitors’ understanding about the battle; the personalities involved, the men who served and the impact it had on a war-torn Britain. The story will be told in real time and draw upon the latest exhibition design to engage and stimulate visitors of all ages.  Anyone who visits is sure to be inspired, but most importantly we will ensure that all those who served and died in the battle will remain in the forefront of people’s minds in the centenary year. 

Steam Pinnace 199 shortlisted for prestigious award

The Institute of Conservation (ICON) Awards team have announced that Steam Pinnace 199 has been shortlisted for the Institution of Mechanical Engineers Award for Volunteering in the Conservation of an Industrial Heritage Artefact.

Built in 1911, 199 is owned by the National Museum of the Royal Navy (Portsmouth) but operated and maintained by museum volunteers known as Group 199. Amongst them are several retired R.N. engineers.

After a year of fundraising, she began a 100-year refit in 2012 aided by a grant of £50,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and £30,000 from the Friends of the Museum. The group raised a further £30,000 from a huge range of smaller amounts and received a lot of support in materials and services from commercial firms.  The group’s balancing contribution to the HLF award was made in volunteer man hours and over three years more than 12,000 volunteer hours was recorded.

Work on the pinnace hull had to be detailed and carefully planned. The three-drum boiler required replacement of over 800 tubes and this has presented a number of serious, delaying problems. The process has been described as wall papering your hall through the letter box because of the very limited access to the tube ends. A traction engine boiler specialist, Mark Filer, was eventually found on the Isle of Wight and the boiler was sent over to him. Over ten months behind the plan, the re-tubed and independently certified boiler was returned to The Maritime Workshop in October 2014. Very sadly Mark died a few months later. His widow described it as his project of a lifetime. The rest of the steam plant has been removed from the vessel, stripped, inspected, defects rectified, recorded and replaced.

Later this year it is intended that 199 will be seen in steam around the Portsmouth/Gosport and Solent area. In the past she has attended events in the Historic Dockyard, the Southampton Boat Show and the Old Gaffers’ Festival at Yarmouth, Isle of Wight.

Negotiations are underway for her to have a berth in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’s Boatshed 4 which is currently being redeveloped. This will significantly increase public access to view her.

This year ICON had more entries than ever before and they have only shortlisted the top two entries in this category. The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony to take place on 22 October 2015 at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London.

Find out more about 199 here

Rousing concerts mark major anniversaries at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

The month of May marks two significant dates, the 70th anniversary of VE Day on Friday 8th May and the250th Anniversary of HMS Victory’s launch and Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is hosting popular evening concerts to mark the occasions. 


To commemorate the 70th Anniversary of VE Day on Friday 8th May, the newest Big Band in the south of England, the Big Time Show Band will perform a repertoire of 1940s inspired tunes for the very first time.  


As Nelson’s flagship HMS Victory celebrates the 250th Anniversary of her launch, a special outdoor concert performed by the Royal Marines Association Concert Band with a special appearance by the Corp of Drums from the Royal Marines School of Music will be held with the ship and Georgian historic buildings as a backdrop on Saturday 9th May.


The broad programme for the HMS Victory concert includes The Battle of Trafalgar with narration; traditional marches, “Songs that won the war” and a James Bond medley


Running times for both seated concerts is 7.30pm – 9.30pm and tickets which cost £20 adult; £15 concession are now available online or by visiting the Visitor Centre, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard between 10am – 4pm. Tickets are also available on the night. 

Book online for the VE Day Concert

Book online for the Victory 250 Concert

First World War veteran ship seeks support from the “crowd” to complete conservation project

Crowdfunding campaign to start Monday 16th February 2015 for one month only

Crowdfunding is being adopted by the National Museum of the Royal Navy for the very first time to raise funds for the completion of the conservation of First World War veteran vessel HMS M.33 in her centenary year.

HMS M.33 is the sole surviving Royal Navy vessel from the Gallipoli campaign fought between April 1915 and January 1916 in what is now modern day Turkey. Over 100,000 personnel from around the world lost their lives during the fierce campaign and the ship will be the backdrop to one of three events being commemorated nationally to mark the centenary when she opens on August 6th 2015.

In keeping with the centenary commemorations, a target of £19,150 to be raised online has been set as part of a crowdfunding appeal and to reflect the significance of the anniversary date. This represents just under 10% of the remaining amount, £250,000 to be raised by the Museum for the completion of the fundraising campaign. Typically, crowdfunding appeals raise small amounts from a large amount of people and interest is generated online. The campaign follows an award of £1.75 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Lying alongside HMS Victory, M33 is a coastal bombardment ‘Monitor’ of 568 tons and features a shallow draft enabling her to get close into shore and fire at targets on land which was essential during the Gallipoli Campaign.

She carried two powerful and oversize 6” guns but was a basic metal box lacking in comforts. The 72 officers and men who sailed for the Gallipoli Campaign were crammed inside and away from home for over 3 years. The M33 project  is part of the National Museum of the Royal Navy’s wider ‘Great War At Sea 1914 – 1918’ programme to mark the Royal Navy’s First World War. It will be also accompanied by the special exhibition, ‘Gallipoli: Myth and Memory’ opening on March 28th 2015.

Matthew Sheldon, Project Director for the M33 launch explains: “Those donating to the crowdfunding campaign receive a number of benefits according to the level of their gift. These range from social media acknowledgement via “shout outs” thanking them individually, to free tickets, limited edition postcards up to special tours of the ship with an experienced curator.”

“We are excited to be using crowdfunding for the first time. It is one of many innovations associated with the project including some of the interpretation we will be using onboard – which will be a bold, moving and impactful interpretation of the campaign.  It also reinforces our message that warfare took place at sea as well as on land and in the trenches.”

“Most importantly though, those donating have the unique opportunity to contribute to saving a fantastic piece of our naval heritage that will be open to visitors for many, many years. We describe her as a little ship with a big history and the beauty of crowdfunding is that you don’t need to contribute large amounts to ensure she is safe for the future.”

The appeal is set to run for one month from February 16th on

A special exhibition: Weighing Anchor: an artist at sea onboard HMS Argyll & Tireless at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth

The Royal Navy has been an abundant source of inspiration to artists through the years and a new special exhibition “Weighing Anchor: An Artist at Sea onboard HMS Argyll & Tireless” opening on December 11th at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard draws on this rich tradition.

Artist Jules George was granted rare access to join Type 23 frigate HMS Argyll three times on active deployment in the Falklands, the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean and one trip with submarine HMS Tireless and has created an extensive body of new artwork inspired by these experiences.

On display for the first time, his work, numbering almost 60 paintings and drawings, reveals an interest in the activities of the crew as they undertake everyday routines. Jules explored every facet of the crews’ work from the engine room to the bridge, joining helicopter crews and Marine boarding parties even losing one of his pieces overboard.

The exhibition features a series of paintings which record his deployment with HMS Argyll to the Falkland Islands.  These poignant works make connections to the war in 1982 and the earlier battle of the Falklands in 1914, the centenary of which is marked on 8 December 2014.  In contrast to the wide-open seascapes of the Falklands, his paintings of the submarine Tireless reveal the close inter-relationship between the crew and their boat.

Curator Victoria Ingles explains: “People are familiar with war art, but seeing this insight into peacetime activity shows a very different perspective. This vital work undertaken by the Royal Navy often goes unacknowledged as serving personnel operate in a closed environment, out of the public spotlight.  We are very grateful to the Arts Council for their generous funding of the exhibition and we are thrilled to work with a contemporary artist of Jules’ calibre.”

Entry to the exhibition is free with a valid Museum ticket.

Volunteer opportunities now available on board First World War Gallipoli Survivor HMS M.33

Volunteers from Explosion Museum work on the aft 6” gun on board M.33: R-L  Wilf Pickles, Graham Vincent, Glynn Rees 

For the first time, opportunities are available for volunteers to work on board the only Gallipoli campaign survivor, HMS M.33 situated at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

Opening in August 2015, she’s the only First World War ship to be open to the public in time for her centenary. As the curatorial team at the National Museum of the Royal Navy prepare the ship to welcome visitors, they require an army of volunteers to get involved with every aspect of her launch, from conservation and education to interpretation and even tour guides.

Volunteers don’t need a background in history or any specialist knowledge of ships, but an interest in the Historic Dockyard will really help.  The museum is looking for people over 18 years of age with a whole variety of skills, experience and knowledge to join from January 2015 and will offer training workshops and a flexible range of shifts. 

Alice Roberts, Volunteer Coordinator at the National Museum of the Royal Navy says “‘Volunteering with the M.33 project allows you to get hands on and be a part of history. She’s a rare and special ship and a reminder of the unheard stories of World War I. As well as learning new skills and meeting new people, the work is very rewarding. I began my career as a volunteer and believe it’s an essential way of protecting our valuable heritage as well as being interesting and enjoyable.”

Positioned alongside HMS Victory in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard, HMS M.33 is a coastal bombardment ‘Monitor’ of 568 tons.  With her shallow draft she was able to get close into shore and fire at targets on land essential during the Gallipoli Campaign which was fought between April 1915 and January 2016 in what is now modern day Turkey. 

She carried two powerful and oversize 6” guns but was a basic metal box lacking in comforts. The 72 officers and men who sailed for the Gallipoli Campaign were crammed inside and away from home for over 3 years. She will be the backdrop to one of three events being commemorated nationally to mark the centenary of the fierce campaign.

The HMS M.33 Project’ is part of the National Museum of the Royal Navy’s wider ‘Great War At Sea 1914 – 1918’ programme to mark the Royal Navy’s First World War. It will be also accompanied by the special exhibition, ‘Gallipoli: Myth and Memory’ opening in March 2015.

The National Museum of the Royal Navy expect volunteers to be involved across the whole HMS.33 project, and welcome questions and expressions of interest.

Area currently being recruited include:

  • Conservation
  • Exhibition and Interpretation Research
  • Learning and Outreach
  • Front of House including visitor hosts (from Summer 2015)

 If you’d like to get involved or find out more about the opportunities available contact Volunteer Coordinator, Alice Roberts  or call 02392 727591