How much of a price do you put on history? Especially in a city such as Portsmouth which boasts such a rich one with regards to our armed forces?
Those are the questions being posed following the news that the only surviving landing craft tank from D-Day could have to be broken up if £4.5m of funding is not secured.
To help celebrate the 75th anniversary of the event next year, plans are afoot to move LCT 7074 to the entrance of the D-Day Story in Southsea. But these plans are not cheap – they cost around £5.6m.
Portsmouth city council have pledged £86,000, with the largest sum – the aforementioned £4.5m – hopefully coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund. But there is no Plan B if the Fund does not cough up.
City museums boss Jane Mee is not wrong when she says it will be a “tragedy” if LCT 7074 is dismantled. The craft, after all, is a survivor from one of the greatest moments in British history. But city councillor Steve Pitt is not wrong either in claiming ‘£5m is a lot of money for the council to consider’ if funding is not secured. In this day and age, many city residents could quickly tell the council how and where they can spend that much money.
In these days of homelessness and other societal problems we are all familiar with, how much money should councils siphon off in order to preserve historical artefacts at the expense of ‘essential’ services?
Most people would no doubt prefer the bulk of council funds to be spent on improving the present in order to help create a brighter future. But surely there has to be something in the pot to ensure the generations to come can learn about how important the past was?
And some parts of the past are more important than others. Arguably, few are more important than preserving the memories of D-Day ...