Step onboard historic ships and let your imagination fly, as you discover what life was like for British seafarers in times gone by. All you need to do is take a trip on the River Thames while a resident at any of the hotels in North West London!
You don’t even need to go very far to find the first of these ships since it is moored beside the Globe Theatre at St Mary Overie dock. The Golden Hinde is a superb, authentic replica of one of the most famous ships in English history. Sir Francis Drake was captain of this vessel back in the late sixteenth century, when it became the first English ship to circumnavigate the world. During his journey, he managed to loot many Spanish ships and came back with a boat filled with treasure – much of which went into the treasury of Queen Elizabeth 1.
Strolling around the ship you quickly realize just how hard life was for those seafarers. Space was limited and there were very few comforts. Have a go at loading the cannon, hold the wheel and learn how the ship was steered.
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Not far away is another very historic boat. This is HMS Belfast which fought many battles during WW2 and is the only surviving cruiser of its type. During the war it was home to 950 sailors and engineers living and working on its nine decks – several of which are well below sea level. Just imagine what it was like sailing across the Atlantic or North Sea, and coming under fire from other ships or submarines. Can you recover a drowned plane in the Operations Room? It’s harder than it looks especially when you are under pressure, knowing that the crew’s lives are at stake.
Book a stay at Best Western Palm Hotel London and take a ferry from Tower Pier to Greenwich – it is only a short journey of around ten to fifteen minutes. Thousands of naval officers trained at Greenwich over the centuries, and you can go inside the former naval buildings. Take a few minutes to admire the fantastic ceiling in the Painted Hall, before heading over to explore another legendary ship – the Cutty Sark.
This graceful tea clipper was once the fastest ship on the sea, speeding between China and the UK loaded with cargos of precious tea. Explore the captain’s cabin, the areas where cabins crew lived, sleeping in hammocks and the storage hold. Find out about the life of the sailors who lived and worked on her, and discover the complexity of such a ship.