Portsmouth's dockyard will be 'must-visit' tourist destination after a year of lockdown misery says new trust boss

THE new boss of the trust that looks after Portsmouth’s historic naval buildings has vowed to showcase the city’s maritime heritage like never before after a year of lockdown misery.

Hannah Prowse has been named as the new chief executive of Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust – the second person to take the helm in the organisation’s 35-year history.

And in her opening mission statement salvo, the former head of national projects for English Heritage vowed to ensure the dockyard would remain a ‘must-visit destination’.

Hannah said: ‘It’s a pivotal time for the trust as we navigate out of the pandemic while preparing exciting plans for the future.

Hannah Prowse, the new chief executive of Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust. Photo: Julian Civiero

‘Nowhere in the UK or internationally will you discover a destination with such rich naval heritage, and it is our ambition to develop fun initiatives, in collaboration with our partners, that showcase and celebrate this.

‘We aim to boost awareness of the estate’s role in the defence of the realm as well as its national attraction as a must-visit destination.’

Having worked on special projects such as the conservation of the Royal Albert Hall and the Elizabeth Tower, Hannah hopes to use those skills to continue restoring and repurposing historic buildings into new visitor attractions.

As custodians of the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard estate, the trust is responsible for preserving the site’s naval heritage.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Photo: Julian Civiero

But under the prime minister’s plan to ease lockdown, museum’s won’t be able to re-open their doors until May 17 at the earliest.

Now Hannah is urging visitors to back the historic dockyard, which includes the National Museum of the Royal Navy and Mary Rose Museum among its attractions.

‘As we start to re-open in line with the roadmap out of lockdown, we are calling on the Portsmouth community to enjoy the fascinating and genuinely unique experience that the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard offers,’ she said. ‘Your visits to the museums, restaurants and shops not only help the local businesses and non-for-profits on site, but also contribute to the crucial maintenance of heritage assets of national importance.’

Hannah is taking over the top job from Tuesday of next week.

The Embracing Peace statue at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Photo: Julian Civiero

Her predecessor, Peter Goodship, was at the helm of the trust since its inception in 1986, and delivered the vision of Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

Major accomplishments during his tenure include the restoration of more than 20 historic listed buildings, the oldest being Porter’s Lodge, built in 1708.

The trust opened the International Boatbuilding Training College, which has trained over 100 students to date, and collected the UK’s finest fleet of small boats involved in 20th century conflicts.

Peter also kick-started the regeneration of the 30-acre site at Priddy’s Hard, Gosport.

HMS Victory pictured at the dockyard with aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales in the background. Photo: Julian Civiero

The first development phase is due for completion this summer, with the regeneration of the ramparts and seven listed buildings, to include a new Coastal Forces Museum, micro-brewery, pub restaurant and holiday let.

Thirty new homes will also be built this year with a further major development phase to follow in the near future.

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