Theatre flooded as sub charity hopes for deluge of cash

IN DEEP Retired submariner JJ Molloy in the flooded basement of the Kings Theatre, Southsea, with a model of HMS Ocelot.   Picture: Allan Hutchings (110211-398)
IN DEEP Retired submariner JJ Molloy in the flooded basement of the Kings Theatre, Southsea, with a model of HMS Ocelot. Picture: Allan Hutchings (110211-398)

Engine woes end mission

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The Kings Theatre was flooded with thousands of gallons of water in a stunt to raise awareness about a submarine that is rotting away.

A diver and an award-winning submarine model could be found floating in a water-filled area underneath the stage of the Edwardian playhouse, which is putting on a fundraising event for the appeal to restore HMS Alliance.

An artist's impression of restoration plans for HMS Alliance

An artist's impression of restoration plans for HMS Alliance

The Second World War sub, which has been on display at Gosport’s Royal Navy Submarine Museum since 1982, has fallen into a shocking state of disrepair with severe rust and corrosion to her bow, stern, faring plates and keel.

It will take almost £7m to restore the boat to her former glory, of which £6m has already been pledged.

As the appeal makes its final push to raise the last £1m, The Kings Theatre is hosting a Submarine Day on Wednesday, February 9 with all the proceeds going to the appeal.

The highlight will be a screening of The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine film, followed by a live show from tribute act The Silver Beatles.

Tickets to the show, which begins at 7.30pm, cost £10.

An earlier

event at 1.30pm the same day will feature the 1943 film We Dive at Dawn, supported by a pre-show talk and exhibition from the Submarine Museum. Tickets cost £4 and £3 for concessions.

Bob Mealings, acting director of the Royal Navy Submarine Museum, hopes the event will help bring in the cash needed to start restoration of HMS Alliance later this year.

He said: ‘It’s always good to have partners and what the Kings Theatre is doing for the appeal is fantastic. In many ways we are similar – we tell stories about submariners and they tell stories in every production they have on stage.

‘We have around

£1m more to go for the appeal and ideally we’d like to begin civil engineering work in June or July.’

The urgent programme of restoration will see HMS Alliance lifted from her current position on to a purpose-built platform above the water and her exterior restored to a pristine condition.

Public access will be increased and modern facilities installed to aid visitors’ understanding of life aboard a submarine.

‘It’s much more than the restoration and engineering,’ said Mr Mealings. ‘It’s about creating a 21st century exhibition and tourist attraction.

‘It’s about people as much as it’s about engineering.’

Surveying the 4ft deep water underneath her stage, Sandra Smith of The Kings Theatre, said: ‘It is one of the strangest things we’ve done, that’s for sure, but this area did used to get flooded all the time. Before we got a pump installed, I remember all the stage hands with buckets trying to get the water out. I also remember the orchestra having to get a dinghy across the water to get in their positions.’

She said the theatre was looking forward to supporting the appeal on February 9, saying: ‘The more you hear about it, the more you want to do to help with it.’

Call (023) 9282 8282 for tickets.