Firm wants to dismantle Gosport Second World War test tunnel

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A CONSERVATION group is stepping up the fight to save a propeller testing tunnel that was moved to Gosport from Germany after the Second World War.

The cavitation tunnel was originally in Hamburg and used to fine-tune the propellers of German warships.

It came to Gosport in the mid-1950s as part of the price of reparations paid to Allied nations by Germany when the war ended, and is now housed at the site of defence firm QinetiQ in Haslar.

The Gosport Society has objected to the firm’s planning application to demolish building 47, which houses the testing tunnel and building 46, which is also connected.

QinetiQ plans to dismantle the tunnel, which will then serve as parts for an operational facility at Newcastle University.

Gosport Borough Council will make a decision on December 10 but council officers have already applied to English Heritage for it to be listed.

The tunnel at QinetiQ is redundant as computer simulations are now used to test propellers.

Roger Mawby, chairman of Gosport Society, said: ‘When things cease to have a function, then people want to get rid of them.

‘If you take it away no one in the future will ever see it, no one will understand the history. It’s a piece of significant technology.

‘To some people it’s like an old steam engine – if you don’t look after it, if you don’t restore it, you lose it.

‘The children forever don’t understand steam engines but thankfully people are willing to spend their time and their money restoring steam engines for the benefit of everybody and the children love it.’

But now due to the technological advances, the facility is no longer needed and Mark Clark, a spokesperson for QinetiQ, said that they have a duty to remove unused facilities under an agreement with the Ministry of Defence.

He said: ‘Economic uses have been sought, but no parties have been identified who could viably support the facility in its present form or from alternative use activities.’

Mr Clark added that the tunnel is not unique and that QinetiQ could currently only give members of the public ‘very limited’ access to the cavitation.

He said: ‘If preserved as a museum piece, it is considered that there would be little public interest, and insufficient interest to generate adequate funds to maintain the tunnel.’