With his periscope set on Gosport, Tom Baker surfaced at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum to explore a fascinating collection dedicated to the ‘Silent Service’

HMS Alliance pictured at night in all its stunning glory

In 1904, the Royal Navy’s ‘Silent Service’ found its home at Fort Blockhouse, a Royal Navy Shore Establishment sited in Hampshire’s Gosport. Across the following century, items relating to the development of submarines were accumulated by officers and submariners of the Submarine Service on the upper floor of the Rosario Block. Although registered as the Submarine Branch Collection in the early 1960s, very few other than serving personnel knew of the museum’s existence – a consequence of the collection being sited behind the perimeter fence of an operational defence facility.

However, this changed in 1978, when HMS Alliance – one of the few surviving submarines that were built during World War Two – was transferred on permanent loan to HMS Dolphin. Interested parties soon felt that the imposing submarine could be the cornerstone of a brand new museum, as a permanent memorial to the officers and men of the Submarine Service who had given their lives in war and peace.

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