Dockyard chiefs to apply for up to £4m for new Royal Marines Museum in Portsmouth - and send HMS Warrior to the dry dock

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DOCKYARD bosses will apply for up to £4m of vital funding next month in a bid to realise long-held plans for a new Royal Marines Museum.

The eagerly awaited military project was dealt a blow last year when the heritage site's £12.9m plea for a lottery injection was turned down

Director general of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Professor Dominic Tweddle

Director general of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Professor Dominic Tweddle

Bosses now say the plans are in a better place – with millions in queued donations that would build a cornerstone for a fresh application.

Success would see the future Royal Marines Museum take a giant step toward reality after concerns over a £9m black hole earlier this year.

Professor Dominic Tweddle, director general at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, said: ‘The total cost of the project will be around £10m – we are half-way there.

‘We’re going to be putting in an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund on November 19 and we are going to ask them for a sum of between £3m and £4m. It depends on what money we have raised by then.

Real kit like a helicopter and rigid raider could dominate a gallery in the future Royal Marines Museum, in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

Real kit like a helicopter and rigid raider could dominate a gallery in the future Royal Marines Museum, in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

‘We’re doing quite well with the Royal Marines Museum and we’ve got some big donations about to be decided and, if we’re lucky, we’ll be able to go ahead and say we’ve got all the matching funding.’

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The application will follow a rallying cry for funding issued by the Princess Royal when she visited Portsmouth Historic Dockyard this month.

At a fundraising lunch she asked wealthy diners to consider chipping into the museum project or pledging toward HMS Warrior’s conservation.

HMS Warrior, centre, with Portsmouth Historic Dockyard in the background. Picture: Shaun Roster

HMS Warrior, centre, with Portsmouth Historic Dockyard in the background. Picture: Shaun Roster

Prof Tweddle told The News the iconic warship will spend six weeks in a dry dock at Portsmouth Naval Base in the next three years. 

The £3m plan would see her mighty hull assessed for damages then repaired, before her rigging is redone for the next three decades. 

‘We have no expectation what we find is going to be anything horrific – we think the hull is in pretty good nick,' said Prof Tweddle. 

‘But we want to look beneath the waterline to see if there's any damage, then we can repaint underneath the hull while she's in there.’ 

The Princess Royal, Princess Anne, right, with the head of the curatorial department of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Matthew Sheldon.

The Princess Royal, Princess Anne, right, with the head of the curatorial department of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Matthew Sheldon.

He added: ‘[The rigging is] all safe, but we would like to re-do it so we are good to go for the next 30 years – and we have work to do on the figurehead too.'

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About £4.5m of lottery cash was spent fixing HMS Warrior’s leaky bulwarks, making her watertight, in a four-year project that ended this year.

While millions are still needed to bring her to absolute glory, Prof Tweddle said it is just a matter of time. 

‘We will do it, we have no doubt – it's just never easy to raise money in this day and age,’ he said. 

‘We’re looking at it in a positive light because we’re £5m down, with £3m to go.’

On both ongoing projects he added: ‘I’m absolutely confident we will get both Warrior and the Royal Marines Museum done.’ 

To boost fundraising, three cashless donation points will be installed at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard over the next two weeks. 

A dockyard spokeswoman said the attraction was ‘optimistic' a sale of the old marines' museum at Eastney ‘will be concluded in the near future’.