As part of their topic on 18th-19th Century Heroes, Year 6 study Admiral Horatio Nelson. Recently they travelled to Portsmouth to explore Nelson’s Ship, HMS Victory.

Throughout their visit pupils walked where Nelson walked and saw where this great man fell, mortally wounded. They experienced what it would have been like for the crew trying to stand up in the cramped conditions and learnt about the grisly amputations the ship’s surgeon would have had to perform, which were particularly difficult considering he was six foot four inches tall and working in a ship which had very low ceilings and would have been lurching up and down in the heavy seas!

The ship’s narrow passageways were home to the powder monkeys [boys as young as nine], which pupils discovered, would be tasked with moving gunpowder to the gun decks. They were chosen because they were able to move through the small spaces at speed. A very dangerous, but vital job.

After moving through all of the decks of HMS Victory, everyone went to Action Stations, an interactive museum covering all the work of the Royal Navy. This included a climbing and abseiling wall, a Merlin helicopter simulator, a ‘ninja-warrior’ style assault course and all manner of interactive exhibits. From ones that tested reaction speed to more cerebral puzzles requiring logic.

Pupil Michael Coates-Lyon said, “The doctor’s part was definitely the best bit on the ship with all the gruesome details! In Action Stations I really liked the reactions speed tests where you had to kick and hit the pillars; it was really fun.”

“I really liked the shooting games in Action Stations, particularly the helicopter simulator,” added Isaac Hanfrey.  “On HMS Victory itself, I really liked the officers’ quarters because they were really smart and I liked the view from the top deck. Learning about the role of the surgeon on the ship was fascinating.”

Mr Dobbs said, ‘”The children had a great time on this very worthwhile trip which combines active learning with the opportunity to explore an iconic ship. It was great to see a History topic come alive for them.”