Harrier jets in Hartlepool? Ambitious plans for Royal Navy museum

DISPLAY: A Harrier jump jet (above) and Polaris missile (below) could be among exhibits at the Hartlepool Maritime Experience if it became a national museum
DISPLAY: A Harrier jump jet (above) and Polaris missile (below) could be among exhibits at the Hartlepool Maritime Experience if it became a national museum

CROWD-PULLING new exhibitions could be staged in Hartlepool at a top tourist attraction.

Harrier jump jets, submarines and Polaris missiles are among potential exhibits under plans for Hartlepool’s Maritime Experience (HME) becomes part of a national museum.

Town leaders hope by this April, the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) will have joined forces with Hartlepool Borough Council and the Trincomalee Trust to run the HME as a single site operation.

A spokesman for the council said: “As part of the proposals, NMRN will commit appropriate investment in the site which will include significant exhibits from their world-class collection.

“Whilst it’s too early to determine what temporary and permanent exhibits could be placed in Hartlepool, NMRN’s extensive collection includes Harrier jump jets, Polaris missiles, mini submarines and a large variety of floating vessels, both modern and historic.”

When asked about the possibility of major exhibitions, John Rees, chief of staff and strategic director for the NMRN, told the Hartlepool Mail: “We are perfectly content with what Hartlepool Borough Council says because it is a statement of fact.

“We all share the sense of opportunity.”

HMS Trincomalee is already a full subsidiary of the NMRN, but the new plans would bring the rest of the Maritime Experience under the NMRN umbrella.

The proposal will be discussed on January 30 when the council’s finance and policy committee meets.

Director of regeneration and neighbourhoods Denise Ogden’s report to the committee said: “The proposals recommend that HME becomes a major national facility within the umbrella of the NMRN, who will commit significant technical and professional expertise to the development of HME.”

She adds: “The potential town-wide economic impact of increased visitor numbers is significant.”

Councillors who meet for the finance and policy committee will be asked to make a series of recommendations. They include the Maritime Experience being operated under a single site system.

They will also be asked to approve a lease to the NMRN. The report also says the NMRN “will commit to ongoing investment” under the new regime.

Council chiefs are expecting the Maritime Experience to become a “key NMRN northern facility” with “much greater market exposure both internationally and nationally” and that will drive visitor figures upwards.

Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, chair of the finance and policy committee and leader of the council, said: “When the council launched the Hartlepool Vision and Regeneration Masterplan 12 months ago, we gave a commitment that our vision would become a reality and already local residents, businesses, developers and many key organisations are buying in to what we are trying to achieve.

“It is vital that we continue to explore how we can move forward and create exciting new opportunities to improve the town, create jobs and secure a bright future. The proposal to create a National Museum of the Royal Navy (North) in Hartlepool has huge potential for the town and indeed the surrounding area.”