|Portchester Catle: Roman Walls, Norman Keep -and on the hill above, A Palmerston Fort.|
|Tudor Round Tower at the harboour entrance; in the sea beyond a Palmerston Fort|
With these static defences there were also ships. Henry VIII had the misfortune of seeing his flagship the Mary Rose sunk during a battle with the French just off Southsea Castle. We could not see her today; she is having yet more money spent on her preservation in the recently constructed museum right next to Nelson's flagship, Victory. That vessel too is being restored once more; her masts are down so she looks a little ragged.
|Workmen in the Bows of Warrior|
|Amending a new Destroyer|
I wonder though if the admiralty has its priorities right. There are more admirals in the Navy today than there are ships in commission. Huge sums are being spent on two aircraft carriers - but not yet on the aircraft to fly from them. There is wrangling about replacing the ageing fleet of nuclear submarines.About all this there is a whiff of Palmerston's follies - no shot was ever fired in anger from any of them. Perhaps though that was the point; they were a deterrent.
|Boat-builders at work|
One place that really thrilled us on our visit was a great shed where old craft were being restored or re-created. There they undertake training courses for people wanting to learn about boat building, and on display are many different craft - a boat from a Royal Yacht, a two man midget submarine (the cockle-shell heroes), all manner of small tugboats and sailing vessels. At Dunkirk it was largely amateur sailors who risked their lives to rescue troops from the beaches. Maybe one day we shall have to look again to our volunteers, when the Navy has shrunk too small to keep us safe.
|Haslar and Gosport on the West Bank of the Harbour: what a sky!|