THE head of the National Museum of the Royal Navy said he is committed to delivery a new ‘world-class’ Royal Marines Museum in Portsmouth.
Professor Dominic Tweddle, director general of the heritage organisation, spoke out yesterday after the shock announcement the Eastney-based attraction was to close later this year.
The revelation shocked staff at the site as well as residents across Portsmouth.
Responding to the concerns, Prof Tweddle said: ‘Of course, change is always challenging, but by 2020 we are committed to delivering a world class Royal Marines Museum which appropriately recognises the heroism and sacrifice of this elite service.
‘The closure of the Eastney galleries is one of the necessary steps to achieve that goal.’
The decision to shut the site is part of the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’s multi-million pound development masterplan.
It comes after the awarding of £13.85m from the Heritage Lottery Fund last year towards the SeaMore project which will allow for the much-needed move of the Royal Marines Museum to the historic dockyard.
Museum bosses claim this cash investment in the dockyard could boost visitor number to the museum ‘twenty-fold’.
But Ann Coats, chairman of the Naval Dockyards Society, has criticised the way in which the closure was announced, saying it caused ‘distress and stress’ among staff.
She said: ‘It is highly regrettable that the staff was given so little warning about the restructuring, and lengthening of the closure period – April 2017 to 2020, rather than 2018 to 2019 – when they had been informed that there was a much longer lead-in time to the closure, and a shorter closure period.’
The Eastney-based museum will close on April 1.