The Royal Navy’s museum in Hartlepool is to undergo a multi-million-pound revamp and expansion.
Large new galleries and workshops will be created to better tell the long, proud history of the Senior Service – including providing a permanent home for a WW2 Coastal Forces boat.
The expansion will also allow the National Museum of the Royal Navy to air some of their treasures currently in storage or held in its core collection in Portsmouth.
The museum has bought the neighboring retail park – which gives it access to empty properties ripe for conversion into new galleries, conservation workshops, reception and retail space, as well as 250 parking spaces for visitors – for £3.4m.
The expansion – part of a £20m investment in the town’s regeneration, including its historic waterfront – will put a roof over the head of RML 497, a motor launch which performed rescue duties extensively in the Channel and around the Orkneys in World War 2.
Alongside other historical galleries, the revamped retail park facilities will be converted into a reception, ticket office, shop, offices, and conservation workshops. In addition, there will be educational facilities – not just focusing on history, but also encouraging young people to tackle STEM subjects.
The investment in the Hartlepool site, which has come under the national museum’s umbrella since 2016, extends to refurbishing the existing museum building and generally improving the grounds as befits a national visitor attraction.
And, to meet the needs of local people, a new leisure center will be built on the Jackson Landing area of the site.
The centerpiece of the museum will remain HMS Trincomalee, the oldest warship still afloat in Europe (205 years old) surrounded by a recreated Georgian quayside.
Professor Dominic Tweddle, the national museum’s director general, said the new investment in Hartlepool would create “a northern powerhouse for culture and conservation”
He continued: “This allows us to commemorate the incredibly rich heritage of the Royal Navy in the North-East, to broaden its appeal to new audiences and support the modern Royal Navy.
“We have exciting partnership plans and working closely with Hartlepool Borough Council, we will create a vibrant, economically successful waterfront offer supporting the regeneration of the town and developing a must-see cultural hub at the heart of Hartlepool.”
Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said the investment would benefit the area tremendously.
“This purchase is fantastic news for the hugely popular museum, which brings the town’s naval heritage to life,” he said.
“It will help it to become bigger and better, attracting and entertaining more visitors than ever before, heavily supporting our ongoing work to transform the town.”