Sunday, January 01, 2006

‘New’ RN Submarine Museum Opens its Doors


Navy News
September 29, 2005

THE Princess Royal performed the honours at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum as the futuristic Fieldhouse Building was officially opened, dedicated to the doyen of Britain’s submarine service.

The bulbous £3.1m exhibition hall, built with £2m Lottery cash, forms the centerpiece of a new-look museum in Gosport which has been transformed over the past couple of years.

A new-look café, new gift shop, new-look weapons gallery, a complete overhaul of the old main gallery, all has been accomplished, adding to the already impressive home of Britain’s first submarine Holland 1.

The Fieldhouse Building is at the cutting edge of this revamp, a cavernous centre which outwardly looks like the bow of a Russian submarine but inside is home to interactive displays, a gallery for temporary exhibitions, an X-craft, a hi-tech film show and can host corporate entertainment.

The building takes its name from the late Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Fieldhouse of Gosport, the hugely popular submariner who rose to Chief of Defence Staff.

His exhibition centre is a fitting home for HMS X24 – the last British wartime midget submarine; visitors, who can now reach inside her cramped confines.

Upstairs houses interactive tests for youngsters from mechanical diving suit arms to the art of driving a submarine using hydroplanes and the knack of positive and negative buoyancy.

“We wanted a building which not only is about submarines, but resembles one, feels like one,” said curator Bob Mealings, pointing up at the building’s roof. “You won’t find any right angles here.”

“It is pretty much a new museum,” said Mr Mealings. “In fact, we’re promoting ourselves as the new submarine museum. And the reaction from the public has been great – there are not many museums where you can ‘touch’ as much as this.”

The transformation in Gosport is not yet complete; the next task is to give the museum’s longest-standing exhibit, and perhaps biggest draw, a much-needed facelift.

After more than a quarter of a century out of the water and exposed to the elements (and pigeon poop) HMS Alliance needs a thorough overhaul.



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