HISTORIC submarine HMS Alliance has become the first in the world to be accessible to wheelchair users.
The submarine, based at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport, has now had an external lift installed as part of a £7m conservation project.
It means people with mobility issues are able to go on board the submarine for the first time.
Yesterday, a small group of people from the Gosport Access and Inclusion Groups became the first to try out the new lift.
Terry Rhodes, 56, from Gosport, said: ‘I have been to the museum many times because of my love of local heritage, but I have only ever been able to look at the submarine from the outside.
‘It’s wonderful to now be able to go on board and I think it will pay dividends to the museum for making this possible.
‘This is going to really benefit not just people who use wheelchairs but also people with heart conditions or other disabilities who couldn’t climb the stairs.’
The lift enables wheelchair users to see the aft end compartment of HMS Alliance, where there is a view of the engine room and control room.
Chris Munns, the museum director, said: ‘Obviously submarines aren’t built for disabled access so it really is marvellous to be able to offer this to our visitors.
‘I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for people who come here with their friends but are unable to go on board.
‘Now they can get a very good idea of what life was like inside the submarine.’
HMS Alliance is the only surviving British Second World War era ocean-going submarine.