New arrival makes waves at soon to open Scottish Submarine Centre
The star attraction of a new multi-million pound museum to honour Britain’s submarine service has been lowered into place in its new town centre home in Helensburgh.
After more than three years in the planning the Scottish Submarine Centre is nearing completion after taking delivery of a 1954 X51 ‘Stickleback’ midget submarine.
The X51, which was built in Glasgow, is a direct descendant of the X-class subs which trained in the Firth of Clyde during the Second World War to attack enemy shipping in the narrow fjords of Norway.
The new tourism attraction, just six miles from the home of Britain’s nuclear submarine fleet at Faslane, is the only one of its kind in Scotland and the first purpose built visitor attraction to be opened in the Clydeside town since Henry Bell launched the paddle steamer Comet in 1812.
Engineers have now manoeuvred the 50ft long, 40 tonne, five-man submarine from the back of a lorry into its final resting place in the middle of a former church hall, currently being converted into a state-of-the-art digital museum due to open in March 2017.
The Scottish Submarine Trust, which was set up specifically for the project, has funded it with donations and grants, including £670,000 from the UK Government, through the Armed Forces Covenant Fund, and £140,000 from Argyll & Bute Council.
It’s hoped the centre will attract more than 20,000 visitors a year to the town and provide an educational resource for school children to visit from Argyll, Dunbartonshire and Glasgow.Brian Keating, the Helensburgh-based businessman behind the project said: “Helensburgh has a long association with the submarine service. Many of the most famous and daring missions carried out during the Second World War either began here or were in some way connected with the Clyde. Our aim is to celebrate that link as well as pay tribute to the brave men from all over the Commonwealth who have given their lives in the line of duty.
“This will be the UK’s first digital memorial using state-of-the-art technologies to deliver immersive film and digital video presentations about the many historic milestones in the development of submarines.”
Bob Seaward, President of the West of Scotland Submariners Association, said: “When people come to Helensburgh they are greeted with a sign that welcomes them to the home of John Logie Baird, the inventor of television. There are also signs to Hill House and its Charles Rennie Mackintosh connection but there’s nothing to remind them that just up the road submarines have been operating for over 100 years.
“The Scottish Submarine Centre will tell the stories of how submarines are built, things that have happened and operations that have gone on. It will also serve to commemorate the passing of submariners who served and lost their lives in the First and Second World Wars.”