Plans in motion to turn Gosport museum into a ‘world class’ facility

A MUSEUM currently run entirely by volunteers could soon be transformed into one of the most spectacular facilities in the country.

Tuesday, 5th February 2019, 4:28 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 10:11 pm
Kevin Casey from the Diving Museum with a 1970's diving suit. Picture: Allan Hutchings

A complete overhaul is being planned for the No. 2 Battery in Stokes Bay, Gosport – which is currently home to the Diving Museum.

The Diving Society, which runs the museum on a voluntary basis, has plans to turn the entire battery building into a museum celebrating the history of diving – a plan which now has the full backing of Gosport Borough Council.

Currently, the volunteers can only use part of the building, with the rest being completely unusable.

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A number of community events have been held at the museum in recent years. Picture Ian Hargreaves (171088-1)

But as the society prepares funding bids to the Heritage Fund and Historic England, the council has given the society a 99-year lease on the building – further cementing its future plans.

Ward councillor for Town, Cllr June Cully, said: 'The museum is a huge asset to us. I remember going into the building many years ago and it was damp, dark, dirty and miserable.

‘To have it turned around like it has been is absolutely smashing – it brings the past and future together and to see it turned into a world class museum would be terrific for this town.’

Chairman of the economic development board, Cllr Stephen Philpott, added: ‘I think that the museum is already an outstanding facility – anyone who has been will recognise that.

‘It does need an awful lot of work but the volunteers there put in an incredibly number of hours. It’s clear to see that we have a really good opportunity to help the Diving Society secure the grants it is looking for.’

The Diving Society is looking to secure around £700,000 from the Heritage Fund, as well as £450,000 from Historic England.

The society will also be fundraising to get an extra £500,000.

The museum’s director, Kevin Casey, was elected as a councillor back in 2018 – but says that diving has always been his biggest passion.

He says he is delighted to have the backing of the council, and that there are big plans for the future of the museum.

Cllr Casey explained: ‘The ultimate aim is to turn it into a world class museum – but there are a number of steps we must take to do this.

‘We need to get through the Heritage Fund process in order to get the additional funding from Historic England, so that’s where we’re at right now.

‘But we are determined to make something that Gosport can be proud of and that the rest of the world would be interested in coming to.

‘Gosport is the home of commercial diving and I so I think there is no better place than this.

‘It’s really nice to have so much support from the council; if we get this funding we can create jobs at the museum and provide a huge tourism boost for the town.

‘To have a 99 year lease is great too, because these bodies that issue funding want to see that there is a long-term future for the project – and that is certainly the case with the Diving Museum.’