Huge £9m black hole threatens future of new Royal Marines Museum in Portsmouth

PLANS to build a new Royal Marines Museum in Portsmouth could be scrapped as heritage bosses last night admitted they were struggling to fund the project.

By Tom Cotterill
Wednesday, 17th July 2019, 7:16 pm
An artist impression of what the new Royal Marines Museum could look like.
An artist impression of what the new Royal Marines Museum could look like.

The National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) is facing a £9m black hole to pay for the much-anticipated dockyard attraction.

The military marvel was meant to open next year but now faces a delay of four years – or being shelved indefinitely – if vital cash isn’t secured.

It comes after a disastrous £12.9m bid for lottery cash last year was thrown out for being ‘too expensive’.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The old Royal Marines Museum in Eastney. Picture: [email protected]

Now under-pressure leaders within the NMRN are preparing a final roll of the dice in a desperate effort to secure a £3.9m grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund this November.

But even if they managed to get this, the NMRN will still be relying on the sale of the former museum site at Eastney to fund the shortfall.

Professor Dominic Tweddle, director of the NMRN, said the charity had about £1m reserves available now for the project now, with new donors also expected to chip in more cash shortly.

But asked whether the museum plan might be scrapped altogether, he told The News: ‘The trustees will have a hard choice to make.

‘They could say that we’re never going to get there and that that’s it but If I’m honest I don’t think that’s likely.’

Prof Tweddle said delays had increased costs of the project by £2m, with the NMRN now having to pay to store its collection in temporary sites while it seeks to sell the old museum site.

It’s hoped this sale will be finalised early next year and would fund a ‘significant’ part of the future marines museum.

However, the setback has forced planners to scale back their original ambitions on the new attraction, which will be based in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

It was due to open with a hi-tech collection centre. However, heritage bosses have now put this on the backburner to focus all efforts into delivering the Royal Marines hub.

‘We have to deliver a new Royal Marines Museum. It would be farcical if the Royal Marines – who are such a big part of Portsmouth life – were not represented by a museum,’ Prof Tweddle said.

The NMRN is now urging people to become donors and support it.

‘We need people to lobby MPs and councils and make noise to help us. We need people to make as much noise as possible,’ Prof Tweddle said.

If all the funding is achieved, it’s hoped the new Royal Marines Museum will open in 2021.