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Top 5 places to learn about Maritime History

6 December 2022

Being an island nation, Britain has drawn strength from the seas since prehistoric times. The coasts of Britain are teeming with great places where your kids can learn all about our maritime history. Here are our top picks. 

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

While there’s loads to see at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, we need to talk about two of Britain’s most famous ships. 

First, the Mary Rose. Beloved by Henry VIII, it was dragged up from the seabed after nearly 500 years at the bottom of the Solent. Hundred of artefacts are on display, giving you a unique insight into life aboard a Tudor ship. The Mary Rose Experience allows your kids to relive the final moments of the ship as it was swallowed the sea. 

Kids can also step aboard perhaps Britain’s most celebrated warship, the HMS Victory. It’s decked out as it was on the fateful day of the Battle of Trafalgar, giving your kids a uniquely immersive experience of naval life. 

National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

This huge museum is heaven for nautical buffs. While many of the collections here won’t appeal to your kids, they’ll certainly get on board with the Ahoy! Children’s gallery. It’s full of fun and interactive displays and activities. 

Entry to the museum is free most of the time, but if you are willing to pay a bit extra, you can explore another of Britain’s most iconic ships - the Cutty Sark. Kids can meet the captain, experience interactive displays and even walk right underneath the ship and touch the hull.

National Maritime Museum Cornwall, Falmouth

This cracking little museum is less about gigantic legendary ships and more about understanding Britain’s relationship with the sea. Kids will first be amazed by the Flying Flotilla, a collection of dozens of small boats from past and present suspended from the ceiling of the main hall. 

Then, they’ll come face-to-face with all manner of extraordinary creatures in the ‘Monsters of the Deep’ exhibition. 

There are tons of things to see that’ll give your kids a real feel for what life at sea is like. They’ll even see boats being built and repaired in the workshop.

And when they need a bit of time to unwind, there’s a play area, dressing up and even a model boat pool where they can compete to see who rules the waves. 

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Hartlepool

Taking in the National Museum of the Royal Navy, the Hartlepool Museum and the Historic Quayside, there’s loads to see here. 

The highlight is the HMS Trincomalee, the world’s oldest surviving warship. Although it’s not quite as impressive as the HMS Victory, it’s still a fascinating trip into the depths of a real-life warship. 

Your kids will meet all kinds of seafaring characters, and if they’re lucky, will even get to see cannon and muskets being fired.

Scottish Maritime Museum, Irvine

Whilst this museum is set over two sites (Irvine and Dumbarton), the Irvine site offers the most for your kids. 

Scotland’s rich maritime heritage is proudly displayed here, with several historic vessels.

Kids will have a great time exploring the interactive displays, and friendly, knowledgeable staff will entertain them with stories of local seafarers. 

There’s even a tour of the harbour, including a recreated apartment that a sailor’s family would have lived in back in the day. A fascinating, immersive experience. 

Wherever you are in the UK, you’re never far from a first-rate voyage into our maritime heritage. 

Photo by Andy Watkins on Unsplash

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