Plans to create a dedicated maritime museum at Ebrington received a major boost with the announcement of a £278,000 funding package from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The proposals from Derry City Council were awarded the money which will not be used to produce a more detailed plan to secure the full £3m grant award required for the project.
The proposed museum will be based at Ebrington and will trace Derry’s maritime history from the early beginnings of the city, through to its emergence as a major commercial and military port.
It will be housed in two listed buildings at the former naval base and will allow public access to more than 30,000 documents which are currently inaccessible.
The exhibitions will include the largest collection of emigration records from the 18th and 19th centuries held outside the Public Records Office.
Announcing the award, Paul Mullan, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in the North , said: “This excellent project has the potential to explore the largely untold story of the region’s maritime history and its impact upon the people of the north west. The new Maritime Museum and Archive Centre will undoubtedly be a major legacy of the UK City of Culture 2013 programme, and we are delighted to offer our initial support to these plans and look forward to receiving the fully developed proposals in due course.”
The announcement was welcomed by the Mayor of Derry, councillor Kevin Campbell. “This is a welcome announcement from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
“The development of the Maritime Museum and Archive Centre at Ebrington will highlight the importance of our city’s maritime heritage and illustrate the international significance of these collections and stories,” he said.
Foyle MP Mark Durkan said the funding is good news for the city. “I warmly welcome the announcement by the Heritage Lottery Fund of £3m funding for the Maritime Museum to be developed on the Ebrington site.
“This will be a key addition to the city’s heritage and tourism portfolio and is so appropriate for the Ebrington site.
“I am delighted for all those who worked so hard to bring this project forward because I know from the earliest concept planning meetings just how committed and patient they have been.
“IIex, the City Council and the other key interests and individuals deserve commendation on this achievement and encouragement in taking the project forward.
“We should also acknowledge that this is another signal contribution by the Heritage lottery Fund to supporting Derry’s heritage assets and appeal for the enjoyment of citizens and visitors and the enlightenment of future generations,” he said.
Mel Higgins, Acting Chief Executive of Ilex added: “This announcement is another important step in the development of Ebrington, following on from the opening of the Peace Bridge and Ebrington Square, the development of The Venue 2013 and the forthcoming creative industries hub.
“There is no more appropriate site for the Maritime Museum which will be the most significant of its kind in the island of Ireland.”