Portsmouth’s new D-Day landing craft tank will be a boom for city, councillor insists

LCT 7074 during the Second World War
LCT 7074 during the Second World War
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LEISURE chiefs have insisted an historic new D-Day attraction in Southsea will be a major asset for the city after concerns were raised about whether it will be profitable. 

Portsmouth City Council has teamed up with the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) in a major £5.6m project to preserve the last surviving landing craft tank to take place in the D-Day landings.

It’s hoped the huge craft – which transported 10 tanks on D-Day – will take pride of place in Southsea Common next year as the pivotal invasion of Normandy marks its 75th anniversary.

However, in a report by the city council, worries were raised about whether or not the attraction would make enough cash to break even.

Councillor Steve PItt, Lib Dem leisure and culture boss at the council, admitted there was a ‘mild note of caution’ but insisted he had every faith in the project.

He said ‘This will be a momentous and unique opportunity for Portsmouth to preserve a piece of history.

‘At this moment in time I have absolutely no reason to doubt that we will have a really good, unique offer that will deliver for the city.’

The project has already received a first round funding grant of  £4.7m from the National Lottery.

An application for £4.5m was submitted to the Heritage Lottery Fund last month with the outcome expected to be announced in October.

In the meantime, council officials and heritage partners at the NMRN and D-Day Story are busying themselves with setting out a clear business plan for the attraction and restoration work.

If all goes to plan, it is expected the 183ft vessel LCT 7074 move from her current home in Portsmouth Naval Base at the end of 2019 and open to the public by early 2020.

Access to the site would be obtained by purchasing a new joint ticket at the D-Day Story. This cost of this would be fractionally more than the current ticket, Cllr Pitt said.

LCT 7074 would feature a range of interactive attractions for visitors and would house the two tanks that used to be parked outside the old D-Day Museum.

On top of this, Cllr Pitt said unique film screenings could be shown on the craft: ‘Can you imagine watching the opening sequences of Saving Private Ryan from inside the landing craft, that’d be incredible.’