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HMS Caroline to open in Belfast's Titanic Quarter in June 2016 after restoration

Published 01/12/2015

HMS Caroline
HMS Caroline
HMS Caroline is the last surviving warship of the First World War
The HMS Caroline which is docked at Alexandra Dock. The ship was built 2 years after the Titanic. The 'Tiller Flat' Emergency Steering Room
The HMS Caroline which is docked at Alexandra Dock. The ship was built 2 years after the Titanic. The Galley which was were all the food for the whole boat was cooked
First World War light cruiser HMS Caroline is docked in Belfast
HMS Caroline will remain docked in Belfast
HMS Caroline in action on the high seas
Captain John Ross (left), chief of staff of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, and Prof Dominic Tweddle, director general of the NMRN, with Tourism Minister Arlene Foster
The 98-year-old warship HMS Caroline berthed in Alexandra Dock
An appeal has been issued to find veterans and relatives of those who served on First World War battleship HMS Caroline

The count-down has begun for the opening of HMS Caroline in Belfast's Titanic Quarter.

Following the award of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £11.5m and a further investment by Northern Ireland’s Department for Enterprise Trade and Investment, repairs to halt the deterioration of World War One light cruiser were completed earlier this year making the ship safe for the next stage of restoration.

Marking the start of the six month countdown to the opening of HMS Caroline is Paul Mullan, left with Minister Arlene Foster, Captain John Rees and Minister Jonathan Bell
Marking the start of the six month countdown to the opening of HMS Caroline is Paul Mullan, left with Minister Arlene Foster, Captain John Rees and Minister Jonathan Bell

Now the final leg of restoration and interpretative work can be completed to allow the ship to function as a world-class museum, a cross-community centre and a meetings and conferences venue.

National Museum of the Royal Navy Chief of Staff Captain John Rees OBE has been leading the complex funding and restoration programme in partnership with the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment.

He says: “HMS Caroline is a living legend. We are breathing new life into what is an internationally significant piece of world history. We are particularly looking forward to the ship being ready for public opening on June 1 2016. This will mark the first stage of a series of phased openings. The second and third phases will see the ship dry docked for hull conservation works in the winter and then the completion of onshore facilities.

“This is a world class heritage asset and the only ship remaining from the Grand and High Seas Fleet of some 250 vessels.  We must not underestimate the value of this ship and the resonance of its history and position in Northern Ireland, so it is a matter of pride for us as well as a contribution to local communities that the ship is brought back to life as a museum, visitor and community centre.

Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Jonathan Bell says: "As the last floating survivor of the Battle of Jutland, HMS Caroline is an integral part of the rich tapestry of maritime history at Titanic Quarter. I have no doubt it will prove to be a popular draw for tourists when it opens as a world class museum in six months’ time.”

Paul Mullan, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund NI, added: "HMS Caroline is unique amongst the world's historic vessels. We are proud that National Lottery players are helping to create a world class attraction that will undoubtedly add to the wealth of HLF supported heritage attractions on offer in Titanic Quarter.

“The centenary of the Battle of Jutland is one of many key anniversaries taking place in the coming years.  HLF is working with communities to commemorate, celebrate and explore these events as part of the Decade of Anniversaries and through our dedicated First World War: Then and Now grant programme.”

The vessel has been based in Northern Ireland for over 90 years and has undergone the first stages of restoration which will eventually see it opened to the public as a world class museum and heritage visitor attraction. The opening date is due to coincide with the centenary of the Battle of Jutland on May 31 2016.

NMRN in a joint venture with Northern Ireland’s Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment initially secured £1m from the National Heritage Memorial Fund to safeguard the ship, £11.5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £2.7m from the Northern Ireland Government to complete the restoration, preservation and interpretative work.

Opening schedule

2016

  • May 31: Commemoration of The Irish Sailor. Centenary of Battle of Jutland ceremonies and events at Alexandra Dock
     
  • June 1: HMS Caroline welcomes its first public visitors
     
  • August: Landscaping of Alexandra Dock complete
     
  • November: HMS Caroline leaves Alexandra Dock for dry dock inspection and hull conservation works
     
  • December: HMS Caroline returns to Alexandra Dock and new position close to Pump House and facing out to sea
     

2017

  • May: Completion of Pump House restoration and installation of permanent ticketing office and visitor welcome centre

HMS Caroline 1939
HMS Caroline 1939
HMS Caroline present day
HMS Caroline present day

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