Future of a WW1 ship that could move to Portsmouth remains in the balance following MP debate

THE fate of a historic First World War battleship is hanging in the balance.

Friday, 16th December 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Saturday, 17th December 2016, 9:41 am
HMS President

Picture: Andrew Lunn Photography
HMS President Picture: Andrew Lunn Photography

HMS President is just one of three surviving vessels from the time but potentially faces the scrapyard after 
failing to secure lottery funding.

As reported by The News, HMS President Preservation Fund hopes to moved her into Portsmouth Historic Dockyard to sit alongside other historic ships such as HMS Victory and Mary Rose.

Yesterday in parliament, Dr Julian Lewis, MP for New Forest East, led a debate on the ship’s future.

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He said: ‘It is odd as a nation we are keen on saving buildings but have a blind spot for the sea and ships.

‘It is unfortunate the condition of HMS President has steadily deteriorated and she can no longer generate the steady income that has previously paid for her up-keep.

‘She is now showing her age.

‘In some areas, the hull is just a few millimetres thick.’

HMS President Preservation Trust wants £3m from Libor – a military and emergency charity – to keep President running that Dr Lewis says ‘would secure her future for the next 100 years’.

Tracey Crouch, minister for sport, tourism and heritage said: ‘HMS President Preservation Trust has made several applications to the Heritage Lottery Fund as well as National Heritage Memorial Fund.

‘NHMF was set up to safeguard the most UK’s important heritage at risk.

‘Although it recognised the historical importance of President, it did not meet criteria for funding.

‘I would strongly encourage the fund to listen to the feedback received and to explore other opportunities.’

Following her military career, President was used as a tourist attract on the River Thames for over 90 years before being taken to Chatham to allow for the construction of the Thames Tideway Tunnel.

President’s hull has been subsequently damaged at her new location.

A government petition launched online to save the ship received over 11,000 signatures, meaning it had to be listened to in the Commons.