One of the proudest projects we had the privilege to supply key staff for was the restoration of the Landing Craft that sits outside the D-Day Museum in Portsmouth. SLR marine recruitment was tasked with providing painters to help bring this incredible piece of our history back to life It had almost been lost to us through the effects of time, but a six-year renovation project finally came to fruition in September 2020.
The start of the project
The LCT 7074 is Britain’s last known D-Day landing craft. At the start of the project, she was simply a funnel sticking out of the Birkenhead water; the body of this craft designed for carrying tanks was rusting and barnacle encrusted. Even once she’d surfaced, she still spent another two years in that state before funding was sourced. The LCT 7074 was built for the specific purpose of bringing troops ashore to affect the D-Day plan. It was also capable of carrying 10 tanks, critical for the success of the mission. Thanks to the restoration efforts, visitors now get the opportunity to experience real life history as they can step on board the restored craft. It’s incredible to think that they were in fact 800 of these involved in the D-Day mission.
What to expect at the D-Day museum
When you arrive at the museum, you can board the LCT using the ramp at the front once used to unload the vital tanks and vehicles it carried. Now it has 2 tanks on board, a Sherman and Churchill which used to stand at the front of the museum. They have been positioned on the tank deck to give visitors a sense of what an LCT full of vehicles would have looked like. It really does help to fire the imagination and show off the vessel’s sheer size because on D-Day, LCT 7074 carried 10 tanks. Visitors can discover the LCT 7074 story right from when it was built at Hebburn on the River Tyne, what important role it had in D-Day, and its second life after WW2 as a nightclub in Liverpool which is how it ended up in the waters of Birkenhead!
This really is a chance to experience living history supported by touch screen technology that has archive material such as interviews with D-Day veterans, phots of LCTs. There are stairs that take you to the wheelhouse critical in keeping the LCT on course as well as the officers’ quarters and the galley. For visitors who want an adventure, there is the chance to head up a ladder to the bridge of LCT 7074 and imagine the commanding officer keeping watch. When you get up to the bridge, you are treated to views of Southsea Common and the Portsmouth cityscape. Visitors who are not able to climb the stairs can view a short film that provides views of the upper decks.
As a Portsmouth based business supporting this restoration was a true privilege for the SLR team. To be a part of this wonderful piece of living history and to acknowledge the great sacrifice made by so many on D Day was an honour.