Fresh waters for museum chief

LETTER OF THE DAY: Hats off to two top firms

HIS office is now just a sparse collection of packed boxes, but Commander Jeff Tall will forever remember the view from his window.

After 14 years in charge of the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport, he still cannot suppress a smile as he looks at the heritage gems framing the waterfront.

The 65-year-old from Eastney is moving on to lecture on cruise ships, but nothing will change about the passion he has for submarines and those who serve in them.

'There is a bond forged under the most strenuous conditions you can imagine, and that never leaves you,' he said.

'Submariners are at best like pirates, eager to throw themselves back into the fray and pit themselves against a huge technological challenge.'

Cdr Tall saw action in the Falklands and was in charge of four submarines before he applied for the museum job.

'There was a great deal of competition, but perhaps because of my experience I was chosen,' he said.

'When I arrived the facilities were limited to say the least, and that represented a huge challenge.'

Cdr Tall has welcomed thousands of visitors to the museum and bargained for millions of pounds of funding during his time, but saving the 1901 submarine Holland 1 stands out as a highlight.

'Saving Holland 1 from falling into disrepair has to be the legacy of my time here. It was a five-year project and took enormous effort from the team,' he said.

'It is quite simply the most historically significant submarine in the world, and there was a real risk it would be ruined if we didn't take action.'

In 2001, the restored boat was displayed to the public in a specially controlled hall, and similar plans are afoot to improve the other attractions.

'The challenge for Marion Budgett, who follows me, is to get to work on HMS Alliance,' he said.

'It will be another large project and I think that stands as a good reason for me to hand over.

'I like to think that during my time we managed to put the family experience into the museum, because getting children here has been so important.'