Battle of Jutland warship’s four years since restoration marked in lockdown

A Battle of Jutland warship is set to mark fourth anniversary of its refurbishment in lockdown.

HMS Caroline reopened as a museum on June 1 2016 following a £15 million refurbishment in Belfast.

However it has been closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic and has had to furlough 91% of staff due to loss of visitor income.

Before and after images following the refurbishment of HMS Caroline into a museum. (HMS Caroline/PA)

The National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) said the closure of its Belfast-based attraction has had a “devastating impact on its finances”.

Its sites in Portsmouth, Gosport, Hartlepool and Yeovilton have also been closed.

The NMRN receives just 19% of its funding from the UK Government with the remaining 81% having to be self-generated.

NMRN director general Dominic Tweddle said they have been plunged into a “precarious situation”.

“Many will have seen in the media the dire situation facing museums up and down the country but perhaps don’t realise that a National Museum such as ours, faces those same challenges,” he said.

“We have reached out to departments across the Navy, Ministry of Defence (MOD) and Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and have had great messages of support; but nevertheless the situation still remains precarious.”

HMS Caroline’s ward room before and after recent renovation (HMS Caroline/PA)

HMS Caroline, the last survivor of the 1916 Battle of Jutland, was last year short listed in the 2019 Art Fund Museum of the Year.

Mr Tweddle described stepping on board as “embarking on a journey across one hundred years of naval history”.

“We know that the relationship between HMS Caroline, Belfast and its people is special and that our work is integral in supporting the local economy,” he said.

“Currently 91% of the staff at HMS Caroline have been asked to take furlough leave, something that has been critical in helping us manage our financial position.

“I can only thank them for their support in doing this.

“However, we do still have a team of essential workers on site and it is fantastic that we can bring details of the work that they are doing to audiences online you can follow the NMRN on @natmuseumrn or facebook.com/NatMuseumRN/”

Whilst HMS Caroline is currently closed to the public for anyone wishing to support the National Museum, donations can be made via nmrn.org.uk/donate.

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