Alan is leading the political campaign to preserve the HMS Illustrious as a heritage attraction, working with colleagues on the Humber and the Tyne. The Illustrious is the second of three Invincible-class light aircraft carriers to commissioned in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In accordance with the promise of the Ministry of Defence that the Illustrious would be preserved for the nation after being decommissioned, Alan is addressing the pressing need to secure the future of the historic vessel before the decommissioning process begins in earnest.
Alan is working hard with Hull City Council, the University of Hull and businesses in the city to bring this magnificent monument to British Naval innovation to Hull during its term as the City of Culture in 2017/18.
It would form the centre of Hull’s visitor destination ambitions focussing on the history of the aircraft carrier, invented and pioneered by the Royal Navy, as well as its roles in conflict and humanitarian effort. The history of naval aviation has a strong local connection through Blackburn Aircraft, which later formed part of BAe Systems in Brough. On the Tyne, the ship will be berthed in the former Holburn Dock, housing part of the South Shields Marine School, which will relocate to new buildings constructed specifically for the SSMS. A community museum and events venue are also intended to form part of the complex. The objective is to have the ship on the Tyne for the next two years and in Hull for the following two years.
Alan is also working particularly closely with the National Museum of the Royal Navy, discussing arrangements for ownership of the HMSI and the heritage operation. There is a mutual interest in establishing a northern branch of the museum.
If the plans are a success, the Illustrious will be available to the general public as an immersive, inspiring and exciting visitor experience for the people of Hull during 2017 and 2018.