Alan Smith posing with his book Balchen's Victory

Alan Smith posing with his book Balchen's Victory

Touch the literary past with events around World Book Day

28 February 2022

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard plays host to a whole array of literary excitement to mark this year’s World Book Day.

Events in all of the galleries introduce visitors to the literary history of the navy, including the exploits of Arctic explorer Captain William Parry, and the journal kept on his travels. 

Additionally, visitors can talk to staff and volunteers who have been inspired to write books relating to the world class museum collection and tours of the relaunched library on-site also allows visitors to view the books in our collection and items not usually available to the public. 


The Victory Gallery, Figurehead fables (5 – 11yrs), Victory Book Nook (under 5yrs) and Meet our Museum Writers (11yrs and over), Saturday 5th March, 11am to 3pm 

In the Victory Gallery there are a range of events for children younger and older.

Enjoy the figurehead fables hosted by the figurehead from HMS Calliope, one of the Greek muses, as she details the mythical tales that inspired the names of the Royal Navy’s ships.

The Victory Book Nook offers a cosy space with story baskets, books and toys to bring some family favourites to life for under 5s visitors.


There will also be a chance to chat to the museum volunteers and staff who have been inspired by the collection to publish their own books.

HMS Victory guide Tony Noon has used his over 5000 hours onboard to take readers through a visual feast of the famous warship in The Essential Visual HMS Victory.

By contrast, Alan Smith’s book Balchen’s Victory, informs readers about the little-known story of the other ship that held the name Victory.



The Nelson Gallery, Non-fiction novels Saturday 5th March, 11am to 3pm 

In the Nelson Gallery find out more about the books that young sailors like Horatio Nelson used in their training, and discover how non-fiction novels can be both interesting and fun in equal measure.  


The Sailing Navy Gallery, Captain Parry’s Arctic Adventures and Book Cover Creation (5 –11 yrs), Saturday 5th March, 11am to 3pm 

Captain William Parry is famous for his groundbreaking early expeditions in the Arctic in the 19th century.

Use sensory play and handle objects inspired by Captain William Parry’s own words, to bring his journal’s Arctic adventures to life.

Then, create a brilliant book cover inspired by famous maritime artist Geoff Hunt, grab some of the props, strike a pose, and take a photograph to record a maritime masterpiece. 


HMS Gallery, Meet with Chat over Chai, Saturday 5th March, 11am to 3pm 

Join Chat over Chai, a local social group, for a special storytelling session, and discover stories from around the world. 


Library, tours and meetings, Saturday 5th March, 11am to 3pm (10yrs +) 

Visitors will also have the opportunity to tour the National Museum of the Royal Navy’s relaunched library, meet the archives team, and view archive material not usually on display.

Tours will be bookable on the day with one every hour from 11:30am, starting at the National Museum of the Royal Navy’s shop entrance.

This event is first come first served.


Victory, Nelson, Sailing Navy and HMS Gallery, Bookworm Trail (5 yrs +) Saturday 5th March, 11am to 3pm 

Across all four galleries take part in the bookworm trail, which highlights some of the fascinating books, and their related objects, that are on display in these galleries.

Once visitors have managed to spot them all, they can decorate their own ‘I heart books’ token to take home.


Entry to these events are free with a valid ticket.

The Ultimate Explorer Ticket is the best value option for 12-month entry to all the attractions at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard including the galleries and exhibitions of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, the Mary Rose, HMS Victory, HMS Warrior, HMS M.33, the Royal Navy Submarine Museum, Gosport, Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower, Gosport and Harbour Tours and starts from £39 per adult and £29 per child.

It is valid for multiple entries through the year, with family tickets available. 

Book online at


Entry onto the 12-acre historic area of the Historic Dockyard is free with a Historic Quarter Pass, which is issued at the Visitor Centre between 10am and 4:30pm.