What to See and Do
Action, adventure, thrills and history all under one roof! With so much to see and do, you will want to explore our attractions again and again.
It is necessary to purchase a Portsmouth Historic Dockyard Site Ticket to use any facility in Action Stations EXCEPT Laser Quest games, which can be purchased separately.
Action Stations is open every day (except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day).
April to October – 10.00am to 5.30pm
November to March – 10.00am to 5.00pm
We recommend you telephone to check winter and Christmas/New Year opening times
Special Interest Tours
Lasting approximately two hours, the special interest tours focus on the history of Boathouse No.6, from construction until the installation of the present Action Stations exhibition.
Your tour will begin in either Boathouse No.7 or the Mezzanine Café with a complimentary tea or coffee upon arrival, before your guided tour of our fascinating building. Please note all tours must be booked a minimum of 72 hours in advance. Minimum of 4 people per tour. Some areas within the tour are not accessible by a lift.
4-10 people: £7.50 per person
11+ people: £5.50 per person
Evening tours: £10.50 per person
Group Special Interest Tours are also available.
Prices as above, but with the below additional options for groups:
Want to make a day of it? We can also offer a day ticket to the rest of the dockyard attractions from as little as £10 per person providing your group comprises of a minimum of 15 guests.
Feeling hungry after all that history? We can obtain special rates for groups of 15 or more, through the dockyard's main restaurant, Boathouse No.7, offering everything from an English cream tea from as little as £4.95 to a three course meal from £16.50. Please ask for further details. Click here to book now
History of the Building
Boathouse No 6 was constructed in the 1840s and was one of the first examples of a brick building erected around an internal metal frame.
Nowadays this is common building practice for large structures such as office blocks, but in Victorian times it was revolutionary and Boathouse 6 would have been at the cutting edge of building technology. Its massive cast iron beams inscribed with their maximum load-bearing capacity now send 21st century architects wild with delight, but ironically the building was designed by an officer of the Royal Engineers, Captain James Beatson.
The boathouse’s original purpose was to build and repair the small boats carried by large warships. At the time of its construction, sail as a source of power for these ships was rapidly giving way to steam, but small ships’ boats were still needed and they continued to be serviced in Boathouse No 6 until after World War 2. However, during that war the building sustained a direct hit by enemy bombing which destroyed the east end of the second and third floors. The ravaged brickwork was hastily sealed over with a temporary wall of corrugated iron and the building continued in Navy use until the late 1970’s when it was finally left empty.
Following a successful application for funds to the Millennium Commission in 1995 as part of the Renaissance of Portsmouth Harbour scheme, HBG Special Contracts Ltd arrived in 1998 to start refurbishment and conversion works to bring the boathouse back into pristine condition and adapt it to house a high-tech interactive exhibition, Action Stations. The bomb-damaged rear part of the building gave architects MacCormac Jamieson Prichard the perfect opportunity to insert the elegant futuristic cinema. It appears to hover over the ground floor, supported on four sets of slender tapering steel columns which fan out from ground level to take the weight of the 275-seat auditorium above.
All the Action Stations installations are purposely designed to a height restriction that allows visitors a clear view through the building so they can appreciate its internal cast iron structure. Designers have also ensured that every part of the Action Stations experience is fully accessible, with three lifts which operate between the ground floor and the first floor, cinema and café.
If you are interested in learning more about the history of Boathouse No 6, you can find out more by taking one of our Special Interest Tours. Click here for more information.
Portsmouth Historic Dockyard
Visit the world famous historic ships at the home of the Royal Navy.
Go aboard HMS Victory, HMS Warrior 1860 and see find out more about the Mary Rose story for the best day out in the South of England. Portsmouth Harbour’s leading attraction also includes the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Action Stations and Harbour Tours. The Historic Dockyard is a great place to experience 800 years of naval history surrounded by working docks and historic buildings. There are lots of things to do for the kids, plenty of family events, school holiday activities, talks and exhibitions. See more information on Portsmouth Historic Dockyard here