It starts with the gun that fired the first naval shot of the First World War.
And following with the stories of the Second World War, the Falklands War, and Afghanistan, three new visitor attractions telling the story of the Royal Navy over 100 years will finally be unveiled in Portsmouth this week.
It comes as The News can reveal the number of visitors to Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard has almost doubled in the last year.
Figures show 718,000 people passed through the gates compared to 385,000 the year before.
Now, three new multi-million pound exhibitions are expected to bring yet another boost to the tourism trade in the city.
On Thursday, a £4.5m new set of galleries will open at the dockyard which recount the remarkable experiences of more than 1,000 servicemen and women in the Royal Navy over 100 years.
On the same day, the first in a series of temporary exhibitions, called Racing to War: The Royal Navy and 1914, will also go on display.
And over the water in Gosport, the newly-restored HMS Alliance will open back up to the public.
Matthew Sheldon, the head of strategic development at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, said the new exhibitions prove Portsmouth is the top place for Royal Navy history. He said: ‘There is nothing else in the country like this that tells the story of the Royal Navy over 100 years and the way we are doing it is excellent.
‘We are telling the story in the words of the men and women who made history.
‘I hope people will feel moved and excited by what we have to show them here.’
The Hear My Story exhibition tells previously undiscovered stories from ordinary men, women, and ships that shaped the navy’s astonishing history over the last 100 years.
Highlights include the 4in gun from HMS Lance, which fired the first British naval shot of the First World War on August 5, 1914, unpublished love letters, and the damaged motorbike of a suicide bomber in Afghanistan.
It is all housed within a refurbished naval storehouse, which has been restored and named the Babcock Galleries.
Lincoln Clarke, the chief executive of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, said: ‘Portsmouth is the home of the Royal Navy, and it is fitting we will be commemorating the centenary of the Great War, as well as celebrating 100 years of naval history, in our new galleries.
‘The opening of the exhibitions, as well as the restoration of HMS Alliance, are testament to the National Museum of the Royal Navy’s dedication to preserving the Royal Navy’s astonishing historical heritage and legacy.
‘This major launch follows last year’s opening of the Mary Rose Museum, which to date has welcomed more than 400,000 visitors.’
Visitors to the dockyard will be able to visit all three new attractions on the same single ticket that grants access to the Mary Rose Museum, HMS Victory, HMS Warrior, and Action Stations.
Exhibition sits in historic storehouse
THE new attraction is housed in an 18th-century storehouse which has been restored for use as an interactive exhibition.
Storehouse 10, inside the historic dockyard, was built by the navy in 1777 and served as a store for 200 years.
It was severely damaged by a German incendiary bomb in March 1941 during an air raid, causing a fire which led to the collapse of its clock tower and upper floor.
Restoration work on the listed building has taken around a year to complete, in preparation for the new attraction inside.
The building work also included the construction of a glass corridor which links Storehouse 10 with the remaining galleries of the National Museum of the Royal Navy.
The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded a grant of £1.4m to the restoration of the building, in addition to the £3.4m it gave towards the restoration of HMS Alliance.
Stuart McLeod, the head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for south-east England, said: ‘We are delighted to have made a significant contribution to the creation of the new gallery spaces and to the restoration of HMS Alliance.
‘These revitalised attractions will provide enhanced opportunities for learning and help to engage new audiences from throughout the UK and abroad.’