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HMS Belfast Visit

 

HMS Belfast Weekend.

 

On Saturday 20th October 2012 a group of twenty-eight 1st Shipley Cubs, nine Scouts and six Leaders met at Christ's Hospital Station to travel up to London by train. After making the change at East Croydon and arriving safely at London Bridge, we made our way to HMS Belfast to drop off our night kits.

Catching the train to Maze Hill offered plenty of space, when compared to earlier trains, and we were able to make our way to Greenwich Park, where our hungry youngsters ate their pack lunches and played for half an hour alongside the immense grandstands that were erected for the Olympic 2012  Equestrian Events.

The five minute walk to the National Maritime Museum took us past the 17th Century Queens House and we saw the Royal Observatory Greenwich (home of Greenwich Mean Time and the Prime Meridian of the World) up on the hill. Alongside the main entrance to the museum was 'Nelson's Ship in a Bottle', by Yinka Shonibare, which after being on the 4th Plinth in Trafalgar Square now resides at the museum. The HMS Victory Model is a 1:30 scale model, 4.7 meters in length and the Cubs were intrigued as to how they had placed such a large model into the bottle.

Voyagers: Britons and the Sea was the first gallery to be visited, the incredible 20 meter Wave dominated the room projecting images from the museums archives that unfolded visually down the wave and 200 related objects adorned the walls, we were all in awe.

Other galleries visited included: The Explorers, the America's and the North West Passage, the Arctic Convoys, Maritime London 1700 to today, the ship simulator and Children Galleries, they all held something of interest to the Cubs and Scouts, whom appeared to enjoy each and every gallery. Once having made a final stop at the museum shop, for those treasured memories, we returned to London Bridge to spend the rest of the afternoon aboard the majestic HMS Belfast.

HMS Belfast was the largest, most powerful and well equipped cruiser in the Royal Navy in 1942 and had the most advanced radar systems and after two and half hours of exploring her we had seen most areas. Some of the memorable were the Gun Turret Experience, the Engine room, the Operations Room and Compass Platform. 

The Ship's Company Galley, the Arctic mess deck, the Dental Surgery, Sick Bay, Provision Issue Room were also very convincing with mannequins and aromas that would have been around whilst the ship was sailing.

At 6 o'clock, we disembarked and ate dinner on the green alongside London Town Hall. Pizzas' went down a treat and as Tower Bridge and London lit up, the ambience was unique. This was lost on most of our Cubs as they wanted to return on board and make their beds for the night. So it was back to Belfast and down to the mess deck to settle down for the night.

We managed to retrieve all our stowed night kits and whilst most youngsters where happy making themselves comfortable for the night, keeping warm and watching DVD's, a number of steadfast Cubs/Scouts were up to do the London Jubilee Walkway (The Eastern Loop).  Sights seen whilst walking in the London drizzle included Southwark Cathedral, the Golden Hind, Shakespeare's Globe, the Tate Modern and the Millennium Bridge.

Early Sunday morning all Cubs, Scouts and Leaders were packed and ready for a quick breakfast   and to catch the train to the Creekside Education Trust Centre at 9:00am. Here Nat and Nick gave us a very warm welcome. After a talk about Deptford Creek, as a tributary of the Thames and home to many salt and freshwater plants and animals, we kitted ourselves out in waders, waterproofs and walking poles to set off on our Low tide Walk and Mud larking Experience. All Cubs and Scouts had a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable time walking in the creek, learning about past life on and alongside the creek and looking for those historical artefacts.

We returned damp and muddy to wash down, with stories of what we had found and how unique an  adventure it was. After bidding farewell we caught our train to London Bridge and then another onto Horsham having hot rolls, buns and drinks on the way.

At Horsham station all the parents were waiting to collect their travel weary and very tired youngsters and the Leaders whom also had a wonderful time went home for hot drinks and a well deserved rest.

All the Cubs, Scouts and Leaders had a wonderful, memorable and exhausting weekend and would like to thank the Executive Committee, the Leaders, Helpers and Parents for all their support and advice without which the weekend out not have been possible.

 

Thank you all very much.

1st Shipley Cubs and Scouts.

 

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