The HMS President Preservation Trust has launched a final appeal to save London's last remaining World War One ship after it was refused lottery funding.
The HMS President Preservation Trust is now appealing to the government in order to secure the future of the World War One ship.
It comes after an application for £333,000 in Heritage Lottery funding was refused.
Trustees say this amount would have secured the vessel’s future.
The Heritage Lottery Fund says it remains open to discussions about the ship.
Since April 2010, the fund has awarded over £70 million to projects marking the Centenary of the First World War.
During World War One, HMS President was a secret German U Boat Submarine hunter, known as a ‘Q’ ship.
It shadowed Atlantic convoys with concealed guns.
In World War Two, HMS President was used to protect St Paul’s Cathedral from the Luftwaffe.
It was also the base for the French Resistance.
HMS President had to be moved from it’s 92 year mooring at London’s Victoria Embankment in February 2016.
It is now in 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 trustees say the City of London Corporation has, in principle, given its support to a new mooring for HMS President, adjacent to London Bridge on the North bank of the River Thames.
However, without the funding required to pay for this, the trustees say they are unable to move forward.
HMS President is planned to be a key part of the World War One Centenary in 2018 as it marks its own centenary that year.
The trust says it 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’,” says the trust in a media release.
“David Evernnett, minister for heritage, has said HMS President presents a ‘compelling case for funding’,” it continued.
The trust says it was encouraged to apply to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a second time, after initially being refused £330,000 of funding in January 2016.
The chairman of the trust, Gawain Cooper, 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,” he added.
The trust says its last resort is an appeal and application to The Treasury for government funding.
It adds that it hopes that the 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 the ship.
In a statement, the Heritage Lottery Fund said it fully recognises the “significant heritage importance of HMS President”
“However, in a very competitive round of funding where our board of trustees were not able to support all of the projects applying, there were serious concerns that the timeframe for developing this project was too short,” it continued.
“In addition, whilst conservation of the ship is an aspiration, there were also concerns that these needs were not fully thought through and costs could rise significantly,” said the lottery fund.
“In light of this competition and after very careful consideration of the risks presented to an investment of National Lottery money, HMS President Trust’s application was unfortunately unsuccessful,” it explained.
“We remain open to discussions about the future of the ship,” the statement concluded.
Since April 2010, the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded over £70 million to more than 1,300 projects marking the Centenary of the First World War.
These include £12 million to HMS Caroline, the last surviving First World War battleship, £78,600 to Grimsby’s Lost Ships of WW1 and £6.5 million to the First World War Galleries, Imperial War Museum London.
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