Warm welcome home for restored ironclad Warrior

Spectators gather at Old Portsmouth as Warrior is eased towards her permanent berth in June 1987
Spectators gather at Old Portsmouth as Warrior is eased towards her permanent berth in June 1987
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Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard is home to a trio of historic vessels with a total age of nearly 900 years.

The baby of the bunch is Warrior, whose masts dominate the skyline at the dockyard entrance in her berth near The Hard.

Trafalgar veteran HMS Victory between the wars and dressed overall for Empire Day

Trafalgar veteran HMS Victory between the wars and dressed overall for Empire Day

It was 25 years ago this month, on June 16, 1987, that crowds lined the shore to see the huge ship return after a £7m restoration programme at Hartlepool.

Warrior was the navy’s first ironclad and was based in Portsmouth for most of her life.

She was launched in 1860 and with her massive armament and armour plating she was the pride of the Victorian navy, but she never fired a shot in anger.

She later became a torpedo training hulk in Portsmouth and then a floating jetty at Milford Haven, from where she was rescued.

Further inside the historic dockyard is HMS Victory, Nelson’s flagship at Trafalgar.

She was laid down in 1759 and launched in 1765.

After Trafalgar she returned to Portsmouth where she was a familiar sight in the harbour until 1922 when she was moved to her present resting place in dry dock.

After painstaking restoration work she was finally returned to her condition as at Trafalgar, and in 1924 George V visited the old ship, officially marking the completion of the mammoth task.

And the grand old lady of the trio is Mary Rose, raised from the waters of the Solent in October 1982.

The ill-fated Tudor warship was built in 1511, but in 1545 she went down with nearly all hands in the waters off Southsea Castle, watched by Henry VIII. She was the flagship of a fleet assembled to combat the French fleet.

She was raised in an historic operation and over the 17-year project to raise her, members of the team made 24,640 dives and spent more than nine man-years under water.