Friday 8 June 2018

Bucklers Hard Maritime Museum

Sorry folks, more holiday photo's and another Museum! I will get round to some actual gaming related posts shortly but for now I had to tell you about this great 'hidden gem' of a museum. I say hidden but by that I mean 'hidden from me' because when I worked in the area some years ago I drove past this place many many times without realising what I was missing. While we were out and about last week, dodging the weather and generally hunting for somewhere to visit I saw a sign for this place and decided to make a detour, dragging the family along with me.

Model showing Buklers Hard at the height of its Shipbuilding period. 

The history of Bucklers Hard is one of misadventure, speculation, changing fortunes but ultimately of success from inauspicious beginnings. Situated on the banks of the Beaulieu River in the middle of the New Forest the location is today idyllic and peaceful. But at one time this was a shipyard building Ships of the Line for Nelsons Navy and later served as a base for Motor Torpedo Boats in WWII and was one of many sites in the south that built sections of the Mulberry Harbours for the Normandy landings. 

A Puckle Gun -  This was a very primitive crew-served, manual flintlock revolving cylinder capable of firing between 6-11 shots (round shot for use against Christians and square shot for use against Heathens!!!). Manual operation of the chamber advance slowed rate of fire to about 9 rounds per minute which was actually slower than other repeater guns available at the time. Investment in this new weapon was limited and few were made with only two surviving examples known to exist, one of them at Bucklers Hard. 

This model of Bucklers Hard shows the site during its most important shipbuilding period. Ships of the line up to 3rd Rate were built here including vessels such as the Kennington, the Eurylalus, the Agamemnon and the Illustrious. 

Model of HMS Beaulieu - 40 Guns, 5th Rate launched in 1791. She was saw service in the West Indies and was present at the capture of Martinique in 1794. Three years later she took part in the decisive British victory at the Battle of Camperdown in the North Sea against the Dutch who were a French client state during the War of the First Coalition (French Revolutionary War). 

Kennington - 20 Guns, 6th Rate launched in 1756. She took part in the Seven years war in North America and in Europe. She was part of the successful capture of Louisburg in Canada in 1758 before serving out her final years in the West Indies. 

Painting showing the Launch of the Euryalus

Shipbuilders looking over their plans and a model.

Model of the Euryalus - 36 guns, 5th Rate launched in 1803. With a crew compliment of just 264 men this frigate was a relatively small ship but played an important part at the Battle of Trafalgar, acting as Nelsons eyes. Commanded by Captain Blackwood the Euryalus commanded a squadron of four other frigates watching Cadiz to report on the movement of the combined French and Spanish fleet. After the death of Nelson, Admiral Collingwood temporarily transferred his flag to the Euryalus. 

The Agamemnon - 64 Guns, 3rd Rate launched in 1781. She served in the West Indies and was commanded by Captain Nelson between 1793-6 in the Mediterranean. It was while on the Agamemnon that he lost his eye at the siege of Calvi in 1794. The ship later took part in the Battle of Copenhagen and Trafalgar. 

A cutaway model of the Illustrious built at Bucklers Hard in 1789 - 74 Guns, Third Rate ship of the line. She took part in the Siege of Toulon and in 1795 earned a battle honour for her part in the Battle of Genoa. Illustrious was severely damaged in the engagement and was lost in bad weather a few days later. 

Memorial Stone dedicated to the victims of the SS Persia which was Torpedoed and sunk off Crete without warning in 1915 by the German U-Boat U-38. The Ship sank in under ten minutes and only four lifeboats were successfully launched. At the time this sinking caused outrage as the vessel was flying a neutral flag and the U-Boat made no provision for any survivors against the Imperial German Navy's policy regarding the attacking of passenger liners (but not, confusingly, against Germany's policy of unrestricted submarine warfare in place at that time)

The Wharf's look like they could do with some restoration having largely silted up. The day we went was wet and overcast giving this quiet riverside location an eerie quality. However during WWII the river would have been home to hundreds of landing craft gathered ahead of the Normandy invasion. 
The river is used more for recreation that boat building now. Shipbuilding ended here in the nineteenth century with the advent of much larger vessels and the introduction of iron hulls. The last major construction to take place here were the building of motor torpedo boats during the Second world war. 

A very interesting museum, especially if you have a passion for British naval history. Its a bit off the beaten track, situated as it is in the centre of the New Forest National Park, but well worth the detour to visit. 


  1. I really like all the museum visits you make.

    1. Thanks. I try to get around and its not often I 'discover' somewhere this good that I haven't been to before (in the South of England).

  2. Beautiful photos, what a great place to visit!

    1. It would have been better had it been a bit sunnier.

  3. Nelson always said Agamemnon was his favourite ship of all those he served in and commanded...

    1. It certainly seemed to hold a special place in his heart.

  4. I've been to BucklersHard several times while visiting my Dad who lives nearby, travelling by both car and sailing up the river. Well worth the visit and in a lovely bit of England.


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