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HMS Belfast

545 of 1169 nominations


HMS Belfast

Is this an icon?


HMS Belfast

It’s fitting that HMS Belfast, a piece of floating British history, is moored on the Thames between two other iconic landmarks – Tower and London Bridges. (You can read more about the Thames here.)  Over six million people have visited it since it became an Imperial War Museum site in 1978. Given its chequered naval service, however, it’s a wonder it survived into the 21st century.

The nine-deck cruiser, launched in March 1938, patrolled Britain’s northern waters in the early days of the second world war. She was severely damaged by a German mine, and didn’t return to the Fleet for three years. The refitted HMS Belfast was then at the forefront of the war in the Atlantic, before supporting Allied troops on their way to Gold and Juno beaches on D-Day, 6 June 1944.

After sailing more than half a million miles, the ship was decommissioned in 1965. Her former captain successfully campaigned to save her from the scrapyard and she was brought to London, first opening to the public on 21 October 1971 – Trafalgar Day.


Your comments

HMS Belfast is the largest surviving example of English twentieth-century naval power and sits between London and Tower Bridges at the fulcrum of English political and economic geography. The first ship to be saved for the nation since Nelson's HMS Victory, HMS Belfast played a key role in the Battle of the Atlantic and in supporting the advancing Allied troops as they made their way on to Gold and Juno beaches on the morning of D-Day, 6 June 1944.


The English navy secured worldwide dominion from the 16th century onward and facilitated the spread of English as a language. HMS Belfast is iconic of the high-water mark (no pun intended) of this power and is harboured in the capital of England.
roy pinnock

How is this an icon of ENGLAND? There is a difference between English and British you know. It was built in Northern Ireland, so maybe an icon of Britishness? Not Englishness.
Dave White

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I think the National Gallery is part of the heritage of England