MARITIME history will explode into life like never before after one of Britain’s most acclaimed warships received a multimillion-pound makeover.
Visitors stepping onto HMS Warrior will now be able to see more of the mighty warship than ever before following the completion of the £4.2m conservation project.
The scheme fixed the iron-hulled giant’s leaky bulwarks, making her watertight once again and protecting her for generations to come.
Heritage bosses at the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) have used the repairs as an opportunity to explore previously-untold stories from Warrior’s history.
Dominic Tweddle, director general of the NMRN, said: ‘Between us in the dockyard, we contribute £110m a year to the Portsmouth economy and Warrior is a key part of that. So it was really important for us to preserve that.
‘We’ve now breathed new life into her. People will now be visiting Warrior as she was in her round-Britain tour in 1863.
‘She had toured across the whole country, visiting about 20 different locations and she was visited by tens of thousands of people.
‘We’re giving people a taste of what it would have been to have been on Warrior at that time. It’s a hell of a ride.’
She now features a new ‘visitor experience’, with a team of actors showing what life was like in 1863 when Warrior was the gem of the Royal Navy and shown off to the British public.
Role-players will give ‘first-person’ interpretations of former crew, like Lieutenant John ‘Jacky’ Fisher – who later became an Admiral and was key in reforming the navy – and civilians who visited her while she toured the nation.
Modern-day tourists will get unprecedented access to previously restricted parts of the ship, including the sickbay, Captain’s cabin and stores.
Councillor Rob Wood was among the first to see the Warrior after her makeover and was delighted. He said: ‘She looks splendid and more people should come and see her.’
Warrior was the largest, fastest and most powerful ship of her day and rendered every other warship afloat instantly obsolete. She was also the world’s first ironhulled, armoured warship.
The vessel has been in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard for more than 30 years.