The Friends have been instrumental in several areas of improvement at the Museum over the last two and a half years. The committee had felt for some time that the upgrade to Alliance – although a huge and lasting improvement – had left the presentation of the rest of the site behind in terms of visitor experience. A complete revamp is therefore underway of the Area of Remembrance around the memorial wall containing the names of over five thousand submariners who have given their lives in the service of their country. A Garden of Remembrance is being installed, including containers of plants representing peace and remembrance, behind the John Fieldhouse Building.
Phase 1 is now complete and bedded in, costing just short of £4000 of Friends’ money. Phase 2 has been planned and funding agreed by the committee to spread the garden along the rear of the building towards the harbour end. £3500 of Friends money has been earmarked for this; also, a number of very generous bequests and donations are also available, these having been specifically directed by donors to be used on this project. The final cost of Phase 2 of the Garden is likely to be approximately £5000, if three hardwood benches inscribed with lines from the naval hymn and the submariner’s prayer are approved.
The last two years have seen the Friends support the Museum with a donation of just under £25,000 towards improving the way that visitors experience their journey through the Museum, the aim being to start bringing it more in keeping with the upgraded Alliance. The sum involved was matched from Museum funds to improve: signage internally and externally; the aspect of the area around reception; the glass door to the Garden of Remembrance with etchings by Frank Grenier; signage around the Waterbus landing; and ease of access through the displays in the John Fieldhouse Building. Many of these improvements acknowledge that the ‘front door’ of the Museum is now by water from Portsmouth rather than by road down the Gosport peninsula.
Further enhancements will soon be evident in the entrance area where a reinterpretation of the X-craft (X24) is planned using multimedia projected onto the submarine itself and onto screens above and behind the vessel. A separate phase of this project will enable some of the submarine weapons stored elsewhere, finally, to be brought out and displayed after more than two years. The Friends have earmarked £40,000 over the next two years to this project which will also bring the story of the Royal Navy Submarine Service more up to date by displaying a Tomahawk Land Attack Missile, representing the modern era, and a Polaris Missile to represent the Cold War era.