Portsmouth’s leading visitor attractions are asking the public to join them in commemorating the 77th anniversary of the Normandy Landings on 6 June.
Portsmouth’s connection to D-Day as operational HQ is well known, and as museums and attractions open back up after a long period of closure, it is a perfect opportunity for the local community and visitors to Portsmouth alike.
To mark the commemoration, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard will be offering a range of activities throughout the day focusing on an appearance by veterans, supported by the D-Day Revisited charity, from the landings. Arriving at the site by landing craft, they will be piped ashore by pipers playing the ‘Millin Pipes’ used by William Millin (Piper Bill) on D-Day itself. The dockyard will also have on display a range of military vehicles, musical performances, model boats and will be offering rides on historic vessels.
Elsewhere in the city the D-Day Story will be back up and running and welcoming visitors to the LCT 7074 landing craft. This incredible one of a kind ship, was bought back to its former glory through a partnership between the National Museum of the Royal Navy and Portsmouth City Council. The ship was finally unveiled at its new home outside the D-Day Story in Southsea in December last year but was forced to close only days later because of the COVID-19 restrictions.
The ship, which was generously supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and has recently been shortlisted for a Museums and Heritage Award for best Conservation or Preservation award; is now part of the D-Day Story visitor experience and visitors are able to visit both the Museum and the ship with only one ticket.
The 6 June also falls in The National Lottery Open Week. Thanks to National Lottery players, £30 million is raised each week for good causes across the UK, with Portsmouth receiving generous support for a number of projects over the last five years.
As well as LCT 7074, the National Lottery has contributed £4million for the D-Day Story, £26m towards the creation of the Mary Rose Museum, supported The National Museum of the Royal Navy with grants of over £20million for displays and conservation work, and assisted the Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust with £6.3 million for various projects including the creation of the PNBPT Boatbuilding and Heritage Skills Centre Project.
To recognise this incredible contribution, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard will be offering a limited number of free tickets to the site for those with a lottery ticket or scratch card. Visitors presenting one of these tickets will be able to access the dockyard and the event from 12noon onwards. Should they wish to enter the Mary Rose Museum, National Museum of the Royal Navy, M.33, HMS Warrior or HMS Victory, they will still need to purchase a ticket via the website.
Free tickets are limited to ensure the site is able to manage its capacity in line with its strict adherence to government guidance surrounding COVID 19 social distancing. They will be made available via the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard website from the 25 May on a first come first served basis and visitors will be asked to produce a lottery ticket or scratch card on arrival at the gate.
The D-Day Story, including LCT 7074, is open from 10am-5pm, seven days a week. Tickets can be booked online or purchased on the day. All visitors 16+ will be required to provide their details as part of NHS test and trace. This, and a reduced capacity, may lead to queues outside the museum on busy days and visitors are advised to consider the weather on the day of their visit.
In addition to these onsite offers, the National Museum of the Royal Navy will also be streaming a series of short online talks with its Head of Collections and Research, Nick Hewitt, from the Southwick House Map Room, the D-Day Story and LCT 7074. With Southwick House not normally available to the public, Nick will be discussing the strategy involved in the landing and in particular the pivotal role that LCT 7074 and other ships and landing craft would have made in ensuring the success of the operation.
Director General for the National Museum of the Royal Navy, Dominic Tweddle says “We are delighted to be able to mark the D-Day anniversary this year not just with our incredible displays at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, and through our website, but also with our wonderfully conserved ship LCT 7074, finally open to the public thanks to the support of National Lottery players. Her role in the landings, and those like her, was of crucial importance and it is fantastic to see her displayed so proudly on the city’s seafront as part of the D-Day Story.”
Pre-booking for Portsmouth Historic Dockyard remains essential, to manage the numbers onsite safely. Designated time slots have been made available throughout the day and visitors will be asked to book on to them. In line with the latest government guidance, visitors will also be required to wear a mask whilst in the individual attractions and sanitiser stations will be available throughout the visit. Rides on the Falklands Conflict Landing Craft will be bookable on the day on a first come first serve basis, a separate charge for this attraction will be in place. Access to the pontoons to view the vessels will be free of charge.
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