National Museum of the Royal Navy, Hartlepool | Review

 This review is based on a visit in May 2024 with three adults, one 8 year old (Evan) and one 13 year old (Jack). This is not an ad/collaboration.  Please check with venue direct for the most up to date information as opening times, prices and other info can change over time. 

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Hartlepool | Review

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Hartlepool : Overview 

  • Recommended For: This museum is excellent for all ages. I really enjoyed it as an adult and would visit without kids. Evan (8) and Jack (13) both enjoyed it too.

    I would say it's best suited to families with kids aged 5-12 but families without kids / with toddlers or teens will still enjoy it. It would be a good option to bring the grandparents along to as well, it's all fairly compact with plenty of seating. 

    I'd recommend setting aside 3-4 hours for a visit. 

  • Admission: Currently from £8 per adult, £6 per child. Family tickets are available from £17. It's cheaper to book ahead online but you can also just pay on the door. Your ticket is valid for a full year so you can come back at no additional cost. Carers and children under 3 go free. 

  • Discounts: There are quite a few discounts available including a 30% discount for veterans & blue light card holders (for up to 5 guests). UK Serving Personnel and Blue Peter Badge Holders receive free entry. See here for the t&cs. 

  • Parking: There is a large free onsite car park (use postcode TS24 0XZ and follow the signs). It's a 40 minute drive / 30 miles down the A19 from the Tyne Tunnel. 

  • Public Transport: This museum is an easy 10 minute walk from Hartlepool Train Station / Interchange and an ideal day out by train from Newcastle (direct trains take around 50 minutes and tickets are fairly cheap - £10.89 return for a family of 4 with a friends and family railcard for example).

  • Access: The museum is mostly accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs with all external areas including the gun deck being accessible.

    The only exceptions are the other levels of the ship, sadly the lift to the other levels is non-operational and they have not been able to find replacement parts. Disabled parking and toilets are available. I would definitely still say it's worth a visit for wheelchair users. 

  • Where to Stay: I would recommend the Premier Inn overlooking Hartlepool Marina. It's a short walk away (you can see it from the museum), offers lovely views and I often see family rooms here for less than £50. 

  • What to Do Nearby: The Museum of Hartlepool is literally next door and free entry so worth a visit and there is a Vue Cinema across the road.

    You could walk along the coastline to Seaton Carew and enjoy the beach, fish and chips, playgrounds and mini golf. We visited Surfside Cafe 1.5 miles away and had Fish & Chips Afternoon Tea - kids meals are fab here too. 

  • Pet Dogs are not permitted

  • Check the blackboard on arrival for today's display times

Why we Loved the Museum of Royal Navy, Hartlepool 

  • A fab day out by train from Newcastle (50 mins direct train with reasonable prices) 

  • Lots of hands on fun and engaging interactive exhibitions 

  • You can climb aboard and explore a real Royal Navy Ship

  • Fantastic pirate ship themed playground 

  • Indoor Horrible Histories pirate themed play area spread across three rooms 

  • Lovely cafe 

  • Beautiful views of the marina

  • You can watch a real cannon being fired 

  • Fun and informative museum - pay once and visit for a full year 

  • Mostly accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs with lots of seating 

  • Easy to combine with a trip to the beach 

All of the following areas are included with admission: 

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Hartlepool : Georgian Street 

The recreated Georgian Quayside is the first area you come to in the museum. It's one street adjacent to the ship where you can walk in and out of some of the buildings which replicate Georgian life. 

It kind of reminded me a little of a mini Beamish but maybe with a more gruesome edge to it. 

You can pop into various trade shops including a tailor, printer and shop plus there are businesses making swords and other weapons too. 

There aren't any live actors but there are interactive elements in most of the buildings. 

We really enjoyed learning about the different types of cannonball used - you can see them in action below and touch them too. 

In this building we were able to learn about the different pests that may be found on board a Georgian ship or Quayside. Open the doors if you dare! 

In the surgeon's house there were little descriptions next to some of their tools and drawings of how they were used. We found this pretty grim on one hand but on the other, bet that actually some of these instruments (or very similar) are probably still used in surgery today. 

Along the street you'll find plenty of photo ops and can go in the stocks or meet a crocodile! 

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Hartlepool : Weapons Displays 

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Hartlepool | Review  - Cannon fired

Check the board for today's weapons displays. There is covered seating under a canopy where you can watch. You get to see gunpowder set on fire and then a real cannon fired into the marina. It's super loud and poweful but they do give you plenty of warning with a countdown. 

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Hartlepool : Fighting Ships


This walk-through experience shares the story of HMS Prosperity with an interactive reconstruction of the reality of war and how men in the Navy prepared to battle the French. This exhibition is only open at set times across the day - check the board on arrival. 

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Hartlepool : Georgian Cafe 

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Hartlepool | Review - Cafe

The Georgian Cafe is really lovely with indoor and outdoor seating and interesting displays - we loved the furry fish! There's also a second hand book corner. 

We grabbed some takeaway coffees from here to enjoy whilst watching the weapon's display. 

There's the usual drinks, snacks, sandwiches, scones, soup and kids lunch boxes for sale. 

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Hartlepool : Playground 

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Hartlepool | Review - pirate ship playground

There's a fantastic playground inside the museum looking over the marina (only accessible to museum ticket holders). It's pirate-ship themed with two ships including a smaller one for younger children. 

There's a roundabout, basket swing, seesaw, sensory equipment and pirate themed activities, slides and climbing areas as well as little swings under the ship. 

Some of the activities are accessible for wheelchair users and the playground is in excellent condition. 

There's seating next to the playground and it's fairly close to the cafe if you wanted to grab a coffee while the kids play. 

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Hartlepool : Horrible Histories Indoor Play Area / Exhibition

This indoor play area / interactive exhibition is spread across three rooms and features over 30 interactive activities. It's fantastic! 

In the first room you can:
  • climb aboard a pirate ship and try steering it to safety
  • learn how to tie knots
  • take your photo with a pirate leg
  • play digital games where you're a pirate
  • photoshop a photo of yourself and transform into a pirate
  • learn about pirate weapons with an interactive video
  • dress up like a pirate and more.....

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Hartlepool | Review  - horrible histories exhibition

The second room is darkened and there's an interactive game to play along the wall plus a bit where you can learn how to talk like a pirate. 

There's also a boat snug with cushions where you can curl up and watch / listen to pirate stories playing on the screen. 

The third room is a little more chaotic with two pirate ships at either end, both with cannons who can fire balls at each other. Lots of fun! 

Sadly one of the cannons was out of order when we visited so the battle was very one sided! Hopefully it can be fixed soon. 

There's also a smaller soft play area in the corner for under 5s. 

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Hartlepool | Review  - Horrible Histories Play Area

There are a few games and interactive challenges to play in here which even as adults we enjoyed. For example we could spin the wheel of misfortune and discover our pirate punishment or there was a game where you can pick your pirate ship name. 

This area was excellent and I was really impressed. I'd say it's best for ages 5-12 years but my teen enjoyed it with his cousin and us adults got involved and had fun too. 

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Hartlepool : HMS Trincomalee Exhibition 

HMS Trincomalee is the ship you'll see docked in the museum and the one you can climb aboard and have a good look around. This real Royal Navy ship is over 200 years old and the adjoining exhibition is worth a visit to learn more about it's history. 

It's pretty interesting and good for adults / older kids with a few hands on areas including the chance to build your own ship and decode a secret message. 

We enjoyed looking around the globe to see where HMS Trincomalee had been and the mission's she'd been on and the ship's recipe book was interesting - it's safe to say we won't be recreating any of their dishes anytime soon. 

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Hartlepool : Climb Aboard HMS Trincomalee

We really enjoyed being able to climb aboard a 200 year old Royal Navy ship and have a good look around. You can visit every deck and life on board the ship is really brought to life when you do this. 

I'd recommend buying the guide book for £5 which provides lots of extra information. 

You can view cannons, the captain's quarters, the mess, kitchen, top deck, below deck and more. Take care when climbing the stairs between decks as they are pretty steep / slippy in parts and if you're over 5ft5", watch your head as some of the ceilings are pretty low in places. 

We all loved having a good nosey around and it was definitely a highlight of our visit. 

National Museum of the Royal Navy, Hartlepool : Diving Deep Ship Wreck Exhibition 

The final section of the museum I'm going to share is the Diving Deep exhibition which shares the story of HMS Invincible which sadly wasn't invincible and sank in 1758 after only 10 years of service! 

She wasn't discovered until 200 years later! 

This exhibition is really interactive and brings the story of the shipwreck to life. You can even smell the oil on the ropes! 

We enjoyed playing the 'guess if this story is true or fake' game, photo ops and 3D reconstruction of the evacuation. All really interesting and engaging. 

We had such a lovely time at this museum and we will definitely be using our ticket to try and revisit at some point over the next year. I'm so pleased I finally visited! 

Make sure you check opening hours and other info before visiting here:

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National Museum of the Royal Navy, Hartlepool | Review


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