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Growing up in the Gosport/ Portsmouth
area, the Royal Navy was part of life, and
the destruction wrought by the Luftwaffe in
WW2 on the area - particularly the Dockyard
- was part of life too. Portsmouth was
slowly rebuilt into one of the ugliest cities on
the south coast; Gosport was never pretty to
start with (but its most vital feature, the
submarine base HMS Dolphin, was still there
after the war - it's a museum today). But
the annual Navy Days festival - including submarines - was a regular feature of my youth.
Then I moved to London and more or less forgot about them. But a filming trip to the
Dockyard for the 'Jane's Fighting Ships' publication revived my interest, and it was
apparent that there was a lot more going on in the Dockyard than there had been in the
1950s or 60s. The Mary Rose, the Warrior and many exhibitions and mini-museums now
added to the list of attractions, and it would take a week to get round them all.
But I never expected this. I wandered into a large shed to be confronted by this sight - the
recently re-discovered main-sail from Nelson's 'Victory' after the battle of Trafalgar. The
crowd was standing, awe-struck into silence, and visibly moved by the display. With the
Victory itself only yards away, it was like being in the presence of, well, I don't know what -
a pseudo-religious experience? a form of collective memory of 1805? (my own
grandmother would threaten me with 'Old Boney' if I was being naughty as a child). I
suspected some in the crowd were actually crying; it was certainly an unforgettable
experience for me.
Growing up in the Gosport/ Portsmouth
area, the Royal Navy was part of life, and the
destruction wrought by the Luftwaffe in
WW2 on the area - particularly the Dockyard
- was part of life too. Portsmouth was slowly
rebuilt into one of the ugliest cities on the
south coast; Gosport was never pretty to
start with (but its most vital feature, the
submarine base HMS Dolphin, was still there
after the war - it's a museum today). But the
annual Navy Days festival - including
submarines - was a regular feature of my
youth. Then I moved to London and more or
less forgot about them. But a filming trip to
the Dockyard for the 'Jane's Fighting Ships'
publication revived my interest, and it was
apparent that there was a lot more going on
in the Dockyard than there had been in the
1950s or 60s. The Mary Rose, the Warrior
and many exhibitions and mini-museums
now added to the list of attractions, and it
would take a week to get round them all.
But I never expected this. I wandered into a
large shed to be confronted by this sight - the
recently re-discovered main-sail from
Nelson's 'Victory' after the battle of
Trafalgar. The crowd was standing,
awe-struck into silence, and visibly moved by
the display. With the Victory itself only yards
away, it was like being in the presence of,
well, I don't know what - a pseudo-religious
experience? a form of collective memory of
1805? (my own grandmother would threaten
me with 'Old Boney' if I was being naughty
as a child). I suspected some in the crowd
were actually crying; it was certainly an
unforgettable experience for me.
Growing up in the Gosport/ Portsmouth area,
the Royal Navy was part of life, and the
destruction wrought by the Luftwaffe in WW2
on the area - particularly the Dockyard - was
part of life too. Portsmouth was slowly rebuilt
into one of the ugliest cities on the south coast;
Gosport was never pretty to start with (but its
most vital feature, the submarine base HMS
Dolphin, was still there after the war - it's a
museum today). But the annual Navy Days
festival - including submarines - was a regular feature of my youth. Then I moved to London
and more or less forgot about them. But a filming trip to the Dockyard for the 'Jane's Fighting
Ships' publication revived my interest, and it was apparent that there was a lot more going on
in the Dockyard than there had been in the 1950s or 60s. The Mary Rose, the Warrior and
many exhibitions and mini-museums now added to the list of attractions, and it would take a
week to get round them all.
But I never expected this. I wandered into a large shed to be confronted by this sight - the
recently re-discovered main-sail from Nelson's 'Victory' after the battle of Trafalgar. The
crowd was standing, awe-struck into silence, and visibly moved by the display. With the
Victory itself only yards away, it was like being in the presence of, well, I don't know what - a
pseudo-religious experience? a form of collective memory of 1805? (my own grandmother
would threaten me with 'Old Boney' if I was being naughty as a child). I suspected some in the
crowd were actually crying; it was certainly an unforgettable experience for me.

Trafalgar recovered

End of Britain section. Go to: World section, Suffolk section, Britain section or Abstracts
Growing up in the Gosport/ Portsmouth area, the Royal Navy was part of life, and the destruction wrought by the Luftwaffe in WW2 on the area - particularly the Dockyard - was part of life too. Portsmouth was slowly rebuilt into one of the ugliest cities on the south coast; Gosport was never pretty to start with (but its most vital feature, the submarine base HMS Dolphin, was still there after the war - it's a museum today). But the annual Navy Days festival - including submarines - was a regular feature of my youth. Then I moved to London and more or less forgot about them. But a filming trip to the Dockyard for the 'Jane's Fighting Ships' publication revived my interest, and it was apparent that there was a lot more going on in the Dockyard than there had been in the 1950s or 60s. The Mary Rose, the Warrior and many exhibitions and mini-museums now added to the list of attractions, and it would take a week to get round them all.

But I never expected this. I wandered into a large shed to be confronted by this sight - the recently re-discovered main-sail from Nelson's 'Victory' after the battle of Trafalgar. The crowd was standing, awe-struck into silence, and visibly moved by the display. With the Victory itself only yards away, it was like being in the presence of, well, I don't know what - a pseudo-religious experience? a form of collective memory of 1805? (my own grandmother would threaten me with 'Old Boney' if I was being naughty as a child). I suspected some in the crowd were actually crying; it was certainly an unforgettable experience for me.   
              
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