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Lottery boost for Hampshire County Council HMS M33 warship restoration project
A PROJECT to restore a Hampshire-based warship has today received a boost from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
Now HMS M33 could play a leading role in commemorating the centenary of the First World War after lottery chiefs ruled it was a suitable scheme to support.
Hampshire County Council, which owns the vessel, came under fire in the summer for spending £250,000 to restore the ship at a time when it has had to make £170m of savings over the past two years.
However council chiefs have described the vessel, which is one of only two surviving First World War ships in the UK, as being of “international significance”.
Now the council and the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) are set to draw up detailed restoration plans ahead of a final bid for £1.79m of lottery funding.
HMS M33 was bought by the county council in 1990, and there are now plans to restore her in time to be a part of the centenary commemorations of the Gallipoli campaign, in which she took part.
The lottery funding is vital to the £2.24m project, and once plans are drawn up a final funding bid for the £1.79m will be handed to the HLF early next year.
The county council and NMRN will fund the rest of the work.
County council executive member for culture, recreation and the countryside, Keith Chapman, said: “We are absolutely delighted by this fantastic news. We have long-known this warship is of national and international significance.
“Without Hampshire County Council’s museums service’s initial intervention to acquire the ship and now this support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the M33 could have been lost forever.”
HLF chief executive Carole Souter said: “HMS M33 provides a fascinating insight into the role the Navy played in the First World War.
“This project will enable visitors to go aboard the historic warship for the first time and explore the stories of those who fought on board. HLF is committed to helping people across the UK to learn about and tell the stories of the First World War.”
HMS M33, a M29-class monitor ship, was built in 1915 as a coastal bombardment vessel.
She saw action in the Gallipoli campaign, which was an unsuccessful attempt by the Allies to capture the Ottoman capital of Constantinople, between 1915 and 1916.
In 1919 she was refitted and sent into action again to cover the withdrawal of Allied and White Russian troops from northern Russia during the Russian Civil War.
She returned and spent the rest of her active life in Portsmouth Harbour being renamed HMS Minerva and Hulk C23 at various times.
HMS M33 is currently berthed in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
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