Sub centre aims to open by July

A £740,000 project for a submarine museum in Helensburgh could be open in time for this summer’s Commonwealth Games.

The museum in St Columba’s Church Hall will house an ‘X craft’ mini submarine and tell the story of the Royal Navy’s Submarine Service  through new media, 3D projected imagery and exhibits.

There will also be an interactive electronic memorial in remembrance of the 5,329 Royal Navy submariners who have given their lives in the service.

It aims to bring at least 10,000 new visitors a year to Helensburgh and a report by Argyll and Bute Council officials says funding worth £500,000 has already been raised by the Scottish Submarine Trust – £300,000 in kind for the submarine, and £200,000 from the MoD Armed Forces Covenant Fund, its largest award ever in Scotland.

As part of its budget announcement the council said it would give another £140,000 towards the project, and next Thursday members will be asked to approve the funding.

This is subject to Visit Helensburgh confirming legal ownership of the building and consent being granted for alterations of the C-Listed structure – planners say the development would be classed as a change of use.

Visit Helensburgh is expected to take ownership of the vacant building on March 28.

The council report  says the project cannot go ahead without the authority’s support, although a commercial sponsor has also made a commitment of £100,000.

It adds: “Helensburgh has a long association with the Submarine Service and it is difficult to consider a better location to narrate the story of the Submarine Service at a time where it is perceived there is a growing historical interest in the two World Wars and the Cold War.

“The financial and in kind support of the MoD of £500,000 demonstrates the support of the very institution that is responsible for  HM Naval Base Clyde at Faslane.

“The funding from the council allows the developers to commit to a proposal to ‘do something’ within a flexible arrangement that can be further developed when additional funding is secured.”

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