Historic Warships Birkenhead Closes - U-Boat And Ships At Risk

By Graham Spicer | 08 February 2006
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Photo of a grey German u-boat in dry dock

U-534 will have to find a new home now that the museum has closed. Photo Historic Warships Birkenhead.

The fate of one of the last surviving German U-boats is unclear after its home at a Merseyside museum has been forced to close.

Historic Warships at Birkenhead closed to the public on Sunday February 5 2006 after the trust that ran it announced its voluntary liquidation. The rare World War Two submarine, U534, is part of the largest collection of preserved 20th century warships in Europe.

The museum was unable to stay at its location on the Wirral because of the conversion of a nearby warehouse into a development of luxury flats.

Photo of a rusted German submarine being transported across water on a floating pontoon

The German U-boat was recovered after 48 years on the seabed. Photo Historic Warships Birkenhead.

Ex-staff from the museum have formed a campaign group to try to keep the ships together in Merseyside, as Andy Mahon, who was deputy manager of the trust, explained:

“Our first major hurdle is finding a financial backer for the trust. The second is finding a permanent berth for the collection and the third is financing some major refurbishments to the collection.”

The group have been meeting with representatives from Den Bla Avis, the Danish company that owns the German U-boat, to discuss its future and will meet with the local council on Thursday February 9 2006 to explore other ways to preserve the boats in Merseyside.

Photo of a waterfront warehouse with a warship and submarine in front of it

Campaigners are hoping to keep the collection of warships in Merseyside. Photo Historic Warships Birkenhead.

“We’ve refused to give up,” said Mr Mahon. “We’re lobbying everyone and anyone who cares to listen…we’re looking for a major investment to help finance the collection.”

The German type IXC/40 submarine was sunk by Allied forces in 1945 and raised from the seabed between Denmark and Sweden 48 years later. She is the only U-boat to have been recovered after being sunk by the Allies. Other ships in the collection include the frigate HMS Plymouth and submarine HMS Onyx, both of which saw service in the Falklands conflict, and a D-Day landing craft.

All were popular attractions in Merseyside, whose ports played a vital role for Britain and her Allies in the Second World War.

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