This weekend sees the annual Heritage Open Days event and, with its wealth of historic buildings, Portsmouth will not miss out.
Among those opening their doors will be HMS Excellent, Whale Island, where all former gun runners will have a field day – and there’s also plenty to interest the general public.
It’s open from 10am until 4pm on Saturday and Sunday. Entry is free, as is parking. Guided tours include the shed where the ceremonial gun carriage, used for state funerals, can be seen.
In the same shed is the 1/12 scale of HMS Queen Charlotte. The ship has just been restored by museum curator Lt-Cdr Brian Witts and a few pals after being almost destroyed by the 1987 Great Storm. The model was built from scratch in HMS Excellent’s workshop in 1934 by Dockyard shipwright apprentices.
Two full-sized ships bore the name HMS Charlotte and the second became the last gunnery training school ship in the Dockyard before being renamed HMS Excellent. In 1891 the 800 men moved to the ‘stone frigate’ at Whale Island and Queen Charlotte was then broken up.
The replica stood in all weathers by HMS Excellent’s main gate. She was rebuilt in 1955 and remained in place until 1987 when she was wrecked in the storm, losing her masts. She was taken back to Excellent in 1994 by Brian and it has taken him, along with the Dockyard Preservation Department, until now to restore her.