The HMS President, one of the UK’s last remaining WWI ships, has been unsuccessful in its bid to secure Libor funding in today’s Autumn Statement from the Chancellor.
The funding bid that had seen support in national newspapers and a parliamentary motion, with more than 20 signatories, has failed to secure vital restoration funding – this could now see the country’s last remaining submarine hunter of the Atlantic campaign scrapped.
Paul Williams, Director of the HMS President Preservation Trust, said; “The lack of recognition for this worthy cause if hugely disappointing. The HMS President Preservation Trust, and our friends in Parliament and elsewhere, have been working extremely hard to secure the future of this wonderful war heritage site.
“Her hull is only a few millimetres thick now in some places. Therefore, if restoration funding is not found soon she will be consigned to the scrap heap – as her sister ship the HMS Chrysanthemum was in 1995. As we mark the centenary commemorations of WWI it seems an absolute travesty that we will potentially be saying goodbye to one of only three remaining warships from that era. What a loss to our heritage that will be.”
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph MPs and Peers, including the Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Boyce, and Chairman of the Defence Select Committee, Dr Julian Lewis MP, had called for the ship to be rescued. The parliamentarians had urged the Chancellor to look favourably on the bid, or risk losing her forever, stating “This would be an irreplaceable loss to our war heritage, and a sorry way to mark the country’s First World War centenary commemorations.”
In the News
Save HMS President 1918
HMS President 1918, one of Britain’s last remaining ships from the First World War, is in dire need of funding for restoration if she is to continue to offer educational, commercial and hospitality services on the River Thames.
Watch coverage of HMS President, featured on the BBC Travel Show on 13/11/16.
Letters to the Editor
NAVAL HERITAGE PLEA
Sir, Without vital funding for restoration work and a new mooring at London Bridge, HMS President — one of three remaining First World War ships in the UK and the only one in London — faces the scrapheap. This would be a huge cultural loss to our country. During her 98 years she has served on the naval frontlines of the Great War, providing vital protection to Atlantic convoys bringing aid from America to Europe. She also saw service in the Second World War as an anti-aircraft battery on the Thames, protecting London landmarks such as St Paul’s Cathedral, as well as providing a secret base to the London-based French Resistance and Special Operations Executive. She also acted as a training centre for the Royal Navy throughout the Cold War.
There is currently an application for Libor-fine funding with the Treasury; this money will be distributed as part of the Autumn Statement tomorrow. We urge the chancellor to look favourably on this worthy cause so that we can secure her future for generations, and allow her to celebrate the centenary year of her launch in 2018.
Admiral of the Fleet Lord Boyce; Dr Julian Lewis MP; Kevin Foster MP; Stephen Pound MP; Lord Faulkner; Lord Hastings; Dr Phil Weir, naval historian; Paul Williams and Peter Moys, HMS President Preservation Trust
SAVE HMS PRESIDENT
SIR – You report on the plight of HMS President, one Britain’s last remaining ships from the First World War.
The former submarine hunter – which saw action in the Atlantic in the First World War and the Blitz in the Second World War, and served as a training facility throughout the Cold War – is in urgent need of restoration.
Without vital funding through Libor fines administered at next week’s Autumn Statement, she will be consigned to the scrapheap. This would be an irreplaceable loss to our war heritage, and a sorry way to mark the country’s First World War centenary commemorations.
We urge the Chancellor to look favourably on this worthy cause so that we can secure her for the enjoyment of future generations, and appropriately mark the centenary of her 1918 launch.
Dr Julian Lewis MP (Con)
Chairman, Defence Select Committee
Kevin Foster MP (Con)
Stephen Pound MP (Lab)
Admiral of the Fleet Lord Boyce (Crossbench)
Lord Faulkner (Lab)
Lord Hastings (Crossbench)
Dr Phil Weir
HMS President Preservation Trust
HMS President Preservation Trust
We have now reached over 10,000 signatures and the Government will have to formally respond to our call.
Make a donation and help save one of the UK’s three remaining Royal Navy World War One ships.
The HMS President Preservation Trust is now seeking funding from corporate sponsors, private donations and the wider community to bring her back to being part of London’s Historic Landscape.
Ultimately, a minimum of £1.5 million is needed for the restoration of the ship itself and a minimum of £1.5 million is needed for the construction of a mooring at London Bridge. A further £2 million is sought for enhanced education programmes to ensure HMS President can be enjoyed by everyone. A number of sources are being sought out for the funding, including the Libor Fund.
HMS President needn’t be consigned to a watery grave or the scrap heap. There is the potential for a bright future and another 100 years of distinguished service. A programme started now can see the HMS President ship shape and Bristol fashion in time for her centenary year, and the final year of the WWI centenary commemorations.
Refurbished, and with a new mooring at London Bridge, HMS President can continue to offer a first class educational and immersive experience to Londoners, tourists and the local community. As one of only three period ships left in the UK, the HMS President can ensure generations to come can experience first-hand what life was like for the heroes of two world wars.
Having already lost its sister ship the HMS Chrysanthemum, it is absolutely vital that this important part of our country’s naval heritage is maintained and found a new permanent home where it can continue to serve London and the country as an educational facility and prestige venue.
The ‘President for Everyone’ campaign will launch at a Parliamentary reception on the 1st November 2016.
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