HMS Belfast is the most significant surviving Second World War Royal Navy warship in existence. Mike Fletcher looks at its events offer and reveals its Summer party packages for 2019.
It may be sub-zero degree temperatures in the UK currently but just imagine what it was like for sailors onboard HMS Belfast during its 18 months operating in support of the Arctic Convoys, delivering essential supplies to the Soviet Union during the Second World War.
By 1942, the Arctic Convoy route to Russia via Iceland had become one of the great naval battlegrounds. HMS Belfast patrolled off Iceland, defending the ships in convoy and watching for attempts by enemy warships to break out into the Atlantic.
In the Arctic, the weather was arguably a greater threat than the Germans, and the special Arctic clothing issued was barely adequate. Veterans remember mess decks inches deep in dirty sea water and going months without mail or leave.
Now, permanently moored on the River Thames, next to Tower Bridge and preserved in its original form, HMS Belfast’s role in British naval history makes it one of the most important and unique venues for hosting meetings and events.
It played a key role in D-Day, the Cold War, Korea, and remained in service until 1965. Today, HMS Belfast offers seven spaces for hire including the Admiral’s Quarters, three different decks, the Ship’s Company Dining Hall, the Morgan Giles Room, plus the Ward & Ante Room.
The Admiral’s Quarters can seat 20 for dinner and comprises the original dining room and lounge area of the Admiral’s own living space. They have been restored to reflect how the space would have looked during the 1950s.
The Ship’s Company Dining Hall features exposed steel walls and original pipework on the ceiling and is an enthralling place to host receptions for up to 200 guests or meetings for 110 theatre-style.
The Ward & Ante Room is HMS Belfast’s former officers’ mess, and is a great choice for pre-dinner drinks for up to 100 guests or meetings for 50 theatre-style.
The Morgan Giles Room is named after the Admiral who ensured that HMS Belfast remained a museum ship, saving it from the scrap yard. The panelled walls echo the camaraderie of the sailors, making it an ideal space for workshops and team events for 90 standing or 60 theatre-style.
The three decks available for hire are The Jubilee Deck (40 standing), The Boat Deck (140 standing) and The Quarter Deck (200 standing).
I can testify that standing on The Quarter Deck during a barmy summer’s evening drinks reception, provides one of London’s finest vistas, with Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, and the Mayor’s building all lit up before you.
For those event planners already thinking ahead to warmer times, HMS Belfast has now launched its summer packages, with a Best of British theme.
For £64+VAT per person, planners can opt for the Best of British Summer DDR package, which includes room hire, finger buffet lunch, afternoon refreshments, projector, screen and table stationary, plus access to the museum.
The Summer Reception Package includes hire of one of the deck spaces, complimentary access to explore the museum, a Prosecco reception, plus a selection of eight canapés and unlimited beers, wines and soft drinks for one hour, priced at £73+VAT per person.
This package can be also upgraded to include a cocktail reception, in partnership with Zest mixology, plus a selection of food stations, for £89+VAT per person.
I’m sure those sailors who braved the Arctic Convoy route must have dreamt about being back in London, soaking up the warm summer evening air and enjoying a drink on deck. So why not give yourself something to look forward to during this current cold snap and enquire about hosting a truly unforgettable experience for your guests onboard this remarkable piece of floating history.
By Mike Fletcher