Hartlepool's Royal Navy Museum to expand after £3.4m purchase of nearby retail park

Ambitious plans for the expansion of the National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool (NMRN Hartlepool) have received a huge boost with the announcement that the £3.4 million purchase of the neighbouring Vision Retail Park has now been completed.

By Neil Fatkin
Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 1:59 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd June 2022, 1:59 pm

It’s hoped the purchase of the 58,000 square foot site alongside the museum, which includes 250 car parking spaces, will “unlock the much needed space” for the expansion project.

In 2019, The National Museum of the Royal Navy entered into an agreement with Hartlepool Borough Council to embark on a project to jointly redevelop NMRN Hartlepool and the surrounding waterfront area to support the regeneration of the town.

Expansion of the museum would include new galleries, conservation workshops, reception and retail space.

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Following Wednesday’s announcement, Professor Dominic Tweddle, director general of The National Museum of the Royal Navy, said: “Our long-held ambitions to create a northern powerhouse for culture and conservation in Hartlepool can now start to take shape with this very welcome news.

"As a museum we’ve responded to the national call for culture to be at the heart of the levelling up agenda and the National Museum of the Royal Navy is at the forefront of these plans in the region.

“This allows us to commemorate the incredibly rich heritage of the Royal Navy in the North East, to broaden its appeal to new audiences and support the modern Royal Navy.

“We have exciting partnership plans and working closely with Hartlepool Borough Council, we will create a vibrant, economically successful waterfront offer supporting the regeneration of the town and developing a must-see cultural hub at the heart of Hartlepool.”

The National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool looks set to expand following the purchase of the neighbouring Vision Retail Park. Picture by FRANK REID

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The council had already secured £20m of funding from the Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen, and Combined Authority (TVCA) to achieve the joint objectives of the partnership.

Mayor Houchen said: “This purchase is fantastic news for the hugely popular museum, which brings the town’s naval heritage to life. It will help it to become bigger and better, attracting and entertaining more visitors than ever before, heavily supporting our ongoing work to transform the town.

“Alongside major events like Tall Ships and the Waterfront Festival, the museum is a huge part of what makes Hartlepool unique, which is why we pledged £20million to help regenerate the Waterfront.

The purchase of Vision Retail Park means the National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool has space for its expansion plans to go ahead.

“Now, as we set out to create the Hartlepool Mayoral Development Corporation, more massive, transformational plans are under way. These will help reshape the town centre, making it a great place to live and visit, while boosting local business and nurturing its brilliant assets like NMRN.”

Councillor Shane Moore, leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, added: “Securing the arrival of the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Hartlepool has ensured the town has a visitor destination of national significance and we are now building on that investment and progressing to develop the wider Hartlepool Waterfront site.

“This is such an exciting time for Hartlepool and the purchase of the Vision Retail Park will enable the National Museum to expand significantly.

“Our partnership with the National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool is hugely important to us and I can’t wait to see these exciting developments take shape.”