The unique D-Day survivor LCT 7074 has won a coveted Museum and Heritage Awards Restoration or Conservation Project of the Year. The judges’ citation read “The scale of this project is astonishing and was, without doubt, challenging. It was detailed in its conservation principles and brilliantly delivered – the judges felt that it was a remarkable achievement.”
This prestigious industry recognition comes at the same time that the National Lottery Heritage Fund confirmed an additional £589K to support the project and plug the gap left in its finances caused by COVID delays.
The National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) worked with Portsmouth City Council’s D-Day Story, to conserve, research, interpret and display the 59-metre 300-ton landing craft tank ship which is now open to visitors.
D-Day is a pivotal moment in history. Most invading troops arrived by sea in landing craft. Of these landing crafts, more than 800 were the large Landing Craft (Tank). Just one survives, LCT 7074, which has been designated part of the National Historic Fleet.
The £7 million project started in 2014 with a rallying call to raise the stricken vessel from her sunken mooring at Birkenhead, with last-minute funding from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.
Once raised and securely located in HM Naval Base, Portsmouth, the NMRN embarked on a two-year conservation project, with £4.7 million funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, to secure her long-term future.
Working with fabrication experts MLUK the conservation project entailed slowing the vessel’s rusting, returning the external paintwork to its original pattern, making the ship accessible to the public and creating an authentic metal canvas on which to overlay interpretation presenting her as she was in June 1944 including the display, onboard, of two tanks owned by D-Day Story.
Professor Dominic Tweddle, Director-General of the National Museum of the Royal Navy said:
“This award really does demonstrate the unique and extraordinary skills that the National Museum of the Royal Navy conservation team hold. The challenge to conserve a fragile low-grade steel vessel made to last months and ensure she is robust enough to tell the vital story of D-Day for generations to come is immense.
“We drew on the conservation expertise of our historic ships team, the largest of its kind in in the world. Measuring just four feet shorter than one of the NMRN’s other historic ships Vice-Admiral Lord Nelson’s HMS Victory, the sheer scale of LCT 7074 is breath-taking and we were honoured to bring her back to life. Her move, from Portsmouth Naval Base to Southsea seafront, in an echo of D-Day itself, was dogged by complexity, delay, working against shifting tides, high winds, and a race against time and road closures, all during COVID restrictions. It could only be achieved with joint partnership working and we are particularly grateful to our partners at Portsmouth City Council and to our funders at the National Lottery Heritage Fund.”
Cllr Ben Dowling, Portsmouth City Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure & Economic Development, said: “I’m delighted LCT 7074 has won this award, it’s truly deserved after the fantastic response it has had from Portsmouth residents and visitors. The landing craft adds an extra dimension to the D-Day Story and adds another iconic attraction to Portsmouth as a destination. It also creates new opportunities for the museum’s outreach work and helps engage a younger audience, proving particularly popular on social media.”
Project management for the LCT 7074 project was delivered by Artelia, the architect was Pritchard Architecture and conservation managed by MLUK.