Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’s Boathouse 4 reopens to public

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard has a new attraction and the International Boatbuilding College Portsmouth has a new home as Boathouse 4 reopens following an extensive renovation.

Boathouse 4 launches as a Boatbuilding and Heritage Skills Centre, offering practical intensive courses in traditional boatbuilding and related skills.

Students from the International Boatbuilding College Portsmouth and Highbury College will be using the airy open space to restore a wide range of seafaring vessels.

They’ll be using traditional tools, timeless woodworking and metalsmithing techniques, and and high-tech machinery to restore all manner of boats.

Perhaps the most iconic amongst the vessels is the Lively Lady, which Portsmouth sailor Sir Alec Rose single-handedly circumnavigated the globe aboard in 1967 through 1968. It was this round-the-world trip which earned him his knighthood.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard visitors will be able to watch the boatbuilding projects progress, enjoying the fascinating history of many of the small boats in the British Navy.


For the youngsters, there’s a range of new hands-on activities, including the chance to climb the rigging of a ship’s mast.

The route visitors take through the newly-renovated Boathouse 4 leads them around an all-angles balcony jutting out over the central boatbuilding space. This elevated area is lined with plaques offering intriguing insights into the histories of respective boats and the methods used to construct and repair them.

At the end of the route is a brand new restaurant and bar, offering glances down onto the boatbuilding floor on one side and picturesque views over Portsmouth Harbour and over to HMS Warrior on the other.

Boathouse 4 will be offering this restaurant space up for private bookings and corporate events.

At the heart of the Boathouse 4 experience is a new exhibition titled ‘The Forgotten Craft’, which tells the heroic stories of the small boats which formed the backbone of the Royal Navy, from the wooden cutters which ferried Lord Nelson to and from his renowned flagship HMS Victory to the Cockleshell Heroes and the powerful motorboats which helped them to win the Second World War.

Whilst many of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’s attractions are ticketed, such as the Mary Rose Museum or HMS Victory, entry into Boathouse 4 is completely free.