The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Cllr Rob Wood, and Lady Mayoress, Debbie Wood, enjoyed a sneak peek of LCT 7074 landing craft tank at The D-Day Story ahead of its official public opening later in the year.
The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress visited the closed site of the landing craft on Clarence Esplanade as the final construction to safely secure the ship in place was underway.
Joined by Martin Hobson from MK Engineering, Nick Hewitt from the National Museum of the Royal Navy and Felicity Wood from the D-Day Story, the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress discussed its history including the young men who travelled on the ship to Gold Beach on D-Day, it’s restoration over the last seven years, and how it will be opened to the public in the coming months.
Cllr Rob Wood, Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, said: “As a visitor attraction it is second to none, but it is also a stunning piece of art you can see from the other side of the common and a fitting tribute to all of those who fought on D-Day.
“This is a piece of history that will not only enhance the visitor experience at The D-Day Story, but inform and inspire so many children and young people to learn more about such an important part of Portsmouth, and the country’s, history.”
Nick Hewitt, Head of Collections and Research at the National Museum of the Royal Navy, said: “We are learning all the time about this ship; about the crews, the tanks and her life immediately after D-Day. Now she’s in situation at the museum, I think even more people come forward to tell their stories and connections to LCT 7074. We’re excited to ensure these stories are brought to life in the museum.”
Situated to the right of the D-Day Story entrance on Clarence Esplanade, LCT 7074 will house two tanks from the museum’s tank collection. Visitors will be able to walk onto the bow of the ship, explore the tanks and the landing craft, and see inside the engine room at the stern.
It is expected that LCT 7074 will welcome its first visitors by the end of the year.
Cllr Steve Pitt, Cabinet Member of Culture, Leisure and Economic Development at Portsmouth City Council, said: “We are looking forward to opening LCT 7074 as part of the visitor experience at The D-Day Story. The ship played such an important part in the history of D-Day and we are honoured to have worked with the National Museum of the Royal Navy and everyone involved to bring this piece of history to life, for everyone to enjoy.”
LCT 7074 is the last surviving example of 800 tank-carrying landing craft that served at D-Day. She carried 10 tanks and more than 50 soldiers from Kent to Gold Beach on 7 June 1944 before returning to England with prisoners of war. In the 1970s, the ship became a floating nightclub before sinking at Birkenhead Docks. She was pulled from the water in 2014 and has undergone a transformational renovation in a joint collaboration by the National Museum of the Royal Navy and Portsmouth City Council, alongside a £4.7million grant provided by the National Heritage Lottery Fund.
Find out more about The D-Day Story at www.theddaystory.com.