HERITAGE LOTTERY FUND CONDEMNS HMS PRESIDENT 1918 TO THE SCRAP YARD
HMS President Preservation Trust, the charity that owns HMS President 1918 (“The President”), London’s last remaining World War One ship, and one of only three left has been refused Lottery funding of £330,000 to secure its future.
During WW1 The President was a secret German U Boat Submarine hunter (a ‘Q ship’) shadowing the Atlantic convoys with concealed guns. In WW2 She was used to protect St Paul’s Cathedral from the Luftwaffe and as a base for the French Resistance.
The President had to be moved from it’s 92 year mooring at London’s Victoria Embankment in February 2016 to storage at Chatham Docks in Kent awaiting refurbishment of its hull and a new mooring in Central London due to the major Thames Tideway Tunnel sewer Project. The City of London Corporation have in principle given their support to a new mooring for the President adjacent to London Bridge on the North bank of the River Thames. However without the funding required to pay for this, the Trustees of the Charity are unable to move forward.
The President is planned to be a key part of the WW1 Centenary celebrations in 2018 as it celebrates its own Centenary that year. The Charity has the support of numerous senior Politicians and Peers, the Military and related Organisations and Charities such as the National Maritime Museum of the Royal Navy, 14-18 Now and The National Historic Dockyard.
Prime Ministers have described HMS President as ‘Part of Britain’s Heritage’, Jeremy Hunt MP when Culture Media and Sports Minister described it as ‘A National Treasure’, David Evernett Minister for Heritage has said HMS President presents a ‘compelling case for funding’.
However despite this support and thousands of members of the public who receive monthly newsletters from the Charity the Heritage Lottery Fund, to whom the Charity had been encouraged to apply a second time after being refused £330,000 funding in January 2016 said although ‘the application was fundable’ they considered it ‘too high risk’. and other Projects were funded in preference to The President.
Gawain Cooper, Chairman of the Charity said ”Our Trustees are bitterly disappointed that with all the public support we have, and after having been encouraged by a senior director of the Heritage Lottery to reapply for the £330,000, that again we were refused support. This decision will most likely condemn The President to the scrap yard”.
The Charities last resort is an appeal and application to The Treasury for Government funding and it is hoped that our new Chancellor, Philip Hammond who was previously Defence Secretary and aware of the importance of The President to the nation and military will now step in and save her.
MARTIN COX - Founder and publisher of MaritimeMatters, inspired by maritime culture and technology growing up in the port of Southampton. He works as a photographer in Los Angeles, and his works has been exhibited in LA, San Francisco, New York, London and Iceland. Martin is the co-writer of the book “Hollywood to Honolulu; the story of the Los Angeles Steamship Company” published by the Steam Ship Historical Society of America. The Los Angeles Maritime Museum has commissioned artworks and collected his photographs.