A former Royal Navy ship that saw action in the Second World War could come to Hartlepool as part of a major deal to revitalise the historic quay tourist attraction.
The National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) is set to take over the running of Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience (HME) and plans to invest millions of pounds to add new attractions and boost visitor numbers.
Part of the Royal Navy Museum’s vision for the site includes the possibility of bringing another naval vessel, such as former HMS Whimbrel, to Hartlepool, subject to availability and funding.
She served on the Atlantic convoys during the second world war and also at D-Day.
The NMRN said: “Such a ship would rekindle interest in HME in spades.”
And it has provided reassurance that there are no plans to move HMS Trincomalee – Britain’s oldest historic fighting ship still afloat.
By creating special exhibitions, running events, staging performance and re-enactment we can also bring the site fully to lifeNational Museum of the Royal Navy
Outlining its plans for the attraction, the NMRN said: “We envisage creating new galleries telling the broad Royal Navy story, but linked to what happened in the North East.
“We intend to anchor the story with big objects such as aircraft, big guns to the site together with some of the rich holdings of NMRN currently in store.
“By creating special exhibitions, running events, staging performance and re-enactment we can also bring the site fully to life.” Regarding HMS Trincomalee, it adds she is most valuable where she is, and NMRN have no need for another ship at its base in Portsmouth.
The national museum says an area behind Jacksons Wharf pub is best for redevelopment of between £5 million and £7 million.
Another idea is to run boat trips in the dock or to the Headland.
Councillors on the Finance and Policy Committee agreed a series of actions to allow the transfer to go ahead, including leasing the site to the NMRN for 35 years.
Councillor Jim Lindridge said: “I’m convinced this will be a really big success.”
Coun Paul Thompson added: “I think the deal presented to us is a damn good deal for Hartlepool. The opportunity to bring more ships to Hartlepool is quite exciting.”
Others stressed the council must work with transport providers to ensure good links to cope with all the new visitors including consideration to where a park and ride bus scheme could go.