When thinking about World War One, in Northern Ireland we tend to think of the Battle of the Somme. That is to be expected, with many families having personal connections to the battle.
‘The battle that won the war’, or the Battle of Jutland was fought close to Denmark between the British naval forces and those of the German Kaiser. HMS Caroline is the only ship that fought in Jutland that has survived until today.
To commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the battle (31 May – 1 June 1916), HMS Caroline has been restored and opened as a visitor attraction at the docks in Titanic Quarter, Belfast. I am a massive history buff and the two world wars especially fascinate me, however, my knowledge of the World War One lies mostly with the happenings on the western front.
The sun was shining brightly on the day I visited. This allowed for a lot of time on the top deck exploring the different weapons (including torpedoes) while also having some stunning views of the Belfast docks.
Audio guides are provided and the natural starting point is the ‘Jutland Experience’ with a five-minute film on the battle. Gone are the days of an information reel listing out facts about the battle with black and white footage in the background (I was a big fan of those reels). On HMS Caroline, a film is played by actors as they progress through the battle on a screen that fills the whole room.
After the film has ended, you have free reign (almost) of the ship to explore:
There is no end to the interactive sections of the ship. I suspect these areas were aimed towards folk younger than myself, but that didn’t stop me dressing up like a sailor. It also didn’t stop me trying to decipher coded messages. (Side note: I should have been better than I was)
HMS Caroline is a fun and informative way to spend your day. It is suitable for all ages and I know I came away knowing what the Battle of Jutland was and the impact it had on the rest of World War One.
It is brilliant to see HMS Caroline restored to her former glory and it’s even better to enjoy a visit on a beautiful day.
Have you visited? Are there any other vessels worth visiting?
Address: HMS Caroline, Alexandra Dock, Queens Rd, Belfast BT3 9DT
Telephone: 028 9045 4484 Price: Tickets are £5 – £12