26 November 2020
The former Royal Marines Museum building and historic fort in Eastney has been sold to an international hotelier and will be transformed into a five star hotel.
The Royal Marines Museum at Eastney closed to the public in 2017, after a review of the building found it unsustainable as Museum and home for a historic collection. A new Museum is planned for the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard site. The Collections have now been moved to a state of the art Collections Centre at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and will soon be accessible to the public through a new programme of curatorial talks and tours. The National Museum of the Royal Navy completed on the sale of the former Museum building this month, with ownership transferring to an experienced international hotelier.
On the decision to close it National Museum of the Royal Navy Director General, Dominic Tweddle said, “The decision to close the building at Eastney was not an easy one. It is clearly something that is very close to the heart of the Royal Marines and the local community. However, the age of the building meant that it simply wasn’t a safe environment in which to store our historic collections leaving them at risk of damage or even ruin. In addition the space, whilst beautiful, would have been extremely difficult to configure modern museum displays and for visitors to move around easily. The cost to have overcome all of those issues would have been extraordinary.”
Further to the review, the decision was made to move the Royal Marines collection to a new, purpose built Collections Centre at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard where it would sit with wider Royal Navy collections. The ‘Storehouse 12 Collections Centre’, which was in part funded by money raised for the Royal Marines project, was completed over the first COVID 19 lockdown and since safely returning to work, the expert team of curators, have been unpacking the collection into its new environmentally controlled home. Dominic said, “We were completing the move of the Royal Marines collection from Eastney to Storehouse 12 on the week that lockdown was announced. It was a herculean effort by our staff and volunteers to ensure that we were able to safely secure all of the objects ahead of the lockdown.”
The new facility will be open to the public next year, enabling them to view and research the Collection, and take tours and talks relating to the items held there. Dominic continued, “We have committed significant resource and energy in creating this incredible space that will safeguard our Collections and ensure that they can be appreciated for generations to come.”
A new Royal Marines Museum is planned to be created elsewhere at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Earlier this year, the Museum discovered it had been unsuccessful in securing National Lottery funding to support the project. Dominic said, "Whilst the news from the Lottery was a huge blow to the Museum, it has not deterred us from making a new Royal Marines Museum a reality. The impact of the pandemic left the future of the National Museum at risk, and meant we did have to take some time away from the project as we fought to secure our future. However, the dedicated team working on the project have been working hard over the last couple of months to move the plans along. The sale of Eastney represents a huge milestone in that process as it frees up some capital to support the project.”
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