The National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) Hartlepool has announced the acquisition of a three-acre retail park for £3.4m, which will form the core of its development plans.
Hartlepool Borough Council has welcomed the expansion, which will put culture at the heart of the town’s regeneration.
The Vision Retail Park is next to the NMRN Hartlepool and its purchase by the museum unlocks much-needed space for an ambitious expansion, which includes new galleries, conservation workshops, reception and retail space.
The project will be delivered in phases with the first likely to reach completion within three to five years.
The galleries will be large enough to permanently house second world war rescue boat RML 497, nicknamed the “greyhound of the seas”, which is currently temporarily based at the museum. The expansion will also enable the museum to enhance its workshop areas for heritage restoration and interpretation purposes, as well as improve its education facilities and spaces.
The project was begun in 2019 and is a partnership with Hartlepool Borough Council who will jointly redevelop NMRN Hartlepool and the surrounding waterfront area to support the regeneration of the town.
The council secured £20m of funding from the Tees Valley mayor and Tees Valley Combined Authority to achieve the joint objectives of the partnership.
Dominic Tweddle, the director general of the NMRN, said: “Our long-held ambitions to create a northern powerhouse for culture and conservation in Hartlepool can now start to take shape with this very welcome news. As a museum we’ve responded to the national call for culture to be at the heart of the levelling up agenda and the National Museum of the Royal Navy is at the forefront of these plans in the region.
“We have exciting partnership plans and working closely with Hartlepool Borough Council, we will create a vibrant, economically successful waterfront offer supporting the regeneration of the town and developing a must-see cultural hub at the heart of Hartlepool.”
Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen said: “Alongside major events like Tall Ships and the Waterfront Festival, the museum is a huge part of what makes Hartlepool unique, which is why we pledged £20m to help regenerate the waterfront.”
Shane Moore, the leader of Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “Securing the arrival of the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Hartlepool has ensured the town has a visitor destination of national significance and we are now building on that by developing the wider Hartlepool waterfront site.”