Southsea’s D-Day Museum is cleared out ahead of site’s £4m revamp

Sarah Howard and Jonathan Tetley take the embroidery off the walls Picture: Habibur Rahman (170373-74)

Sarah Howard and Jonathan Tetley take the embroidery off the walls Picture: Habibur Rahman (170373-74)

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IT IS a stunning tribute to the brave men who gave their all on the beaches and fields of Normandy to free Europe from the iron fist of Nazi rule.

And after having hung pride of place in Southsea’s D-Day Museum since 1984, the Operation Overlord embroidery has been packed away.

Conservation experts spent days painstakingly placing the 83 metre-long work of art into 34 protective cases.

It’s the first phase of the D-Day Museum’s multimillion-pound revamp, which is seeing all 500 artefacts being stored away as heritage chiefs prepare the site for its year-long makeover.

Katy Ball, collections registrar at the museum, said the task was immense.

‘This is a key moment for us,’ she explained. ‘Until we do this we can’t move forward and develop the museum.

‘We have been planning this for nearly a year, so today has been incredibly exciting.’

She added: ‘It’s actually been beautifully simple getting the embroidery off.’

The embroidery was commissioned by Lord Dulverton of Batsford as a tribute to the heroism and sacrifice of those who took part in the liberation of Europe.

Created by the Royal School of Needlework, it is one of the world’s largest embroideries, taking a team of 25 needlewomen four years to complete.

Jonathan Tetley is a conservation restorer and is in charge of looking after the tapestry while the museum is revamped.

He said: ‘It’s an honour to be part of this project.

‘The embroidery is a very, very important part of our history. As well as that, it’s also an incredibly interesting artwork in its own right.

‘The embroideries will hold their own as artworks for many years to come as well as their interest as a historical document.’

The next phase of the makeover will see the two large tanks moved. This is due to happen in May. The embroideries will be stored in a safe place until they are returned to the museum early next year. The site is due to reopen in spring 2018.

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