Work is under way to restore museum after £36k grant

WORK is set to begin to evaluate exactly what is needed to restore a seaside museum to its former glory.

Saturday, 24th March 2018, 6:00 am
Flashback to a Pirate Day at the Diving Museum, Stokes Bay, which has just been awarded £36,900 to launch a campaign to turn the building into a high-quality attraction

The Diving Museum in No2 Battery at Stokes Bay, Gosport, has been awarded a grant of £36,900 by Historic England, which will be used to kickstart the campaign to repair the building and transform the site into a high-quality attraction.

Currently, only a third of the site, run by the Historical Diving Society, is open to visitors.

The building is both a Grade Two listed site and was placed on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register in October last year.

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No2 Battery was built to counter the threat of French invasion in the 1860s.

Once the cost is worked out, the Historical Diving Society will be submitting an application to Heritage Lottery Fund.

But to make the application successful, the museum must provide a detailed plan for repairs, as well as how to make the museum a sustainable project for the future.

Museum director Kevin Casey said: ‘The purpose of this grant is to find out the true cost of repairs.

‘We know that it is going to cost a lot of money, but we want to make sure that our application is watertight.

‘The building isn’t going to get any better so we need to move quickly to get things sorted.

‘This site is very important to Gosport because it will be the only military defence building left in the borough.

‘Every other one is being redeveloped and the public has no access to it – so we want the community to see it as part of the town’s heritage.’

Last year, the society estimated that the repairs would cost £1.93m and would be completed by 2020.

But now they want a more accurate set of statistics.

Clare Charlesworth, Heritage at Risk principal advisor for Historic England South East, said: ‘No2 Battery, where the Diving Museum is located, was built as part of the fortifications to protect Portsmouth Harbour in the 1860s.

“It’s a vital building in our understanding of the evolving defence of Portsmouth over the past 500 years, especially during the Victorian period.

‘We are delighted to help the Historical Diving Society develop the project to repair it and make it into a museum building that is fit to house their world class exhibits on the history of diving.’