A UNIQUE project which could provide a massive tourism boost to Watchet, while also keeping Britain’s naval history alive, is gaining momentum.
Restoration expert Paul Childs, along with his wife Rhian and sons Owen and Simon, is hoping to open a floating museum in the town featuring four of the country’s most prized maritime possessions.
Mr Childs sold the family home to fund the restoration of Cold War ship HMS Gay Archer to its former glory.
Moored in Watchet, it has now been joined by antisubmarine boat Moonlight 27, the lead ship which took United States troops to Utah and Omaha beaches in Normandy during the D-Day landings in 1944, after son Owen bought it.
Along with Hyperion, which is already part of the Watchet scenery and carried King George VI in 1944, plus another boat to be confirmed, they will form Watchet War Ships Museum and the biggest collection of its kind in the world.
Following a successful trial in which visitors were able to board the Gay Archer this summer to see uniforms, photos and learn more about the boat through a guided tour and specially-produced pamphlet, funding needs to be found to make the museum a hit.
Mr Childs, from Bridgwater, said: “These are such prized possessions and now they are in the public domain, lots of people are taking an interest.
“The idea is that Watchet is going to be a focal point for all these special boats. It is all for the public but also a way of trying to safeguard our history – these boats are the last of their kind and are irreplaceable.
“This summer’s trial went really well – we had holidaymakers from all over the world and they couldn’t believe what they were seeing – it’s mind blowing.
“They left some brilliant comments in our visitor book which makes me sure that the museum will put Watchet on the map.
“We definitely have the enthusiasm to take the project forward, now we need to look into getting funding to get the fourth boat to Watchet and get the museum up and running.”
Anyone who would like to support the project can contact Paul via his website: www.p1041.org