Former Marines museum sold in 5-star hotel deal

The former Royal Marines museum in Portsmouth is to be turned into a five-star hotel.

The 150-year-old building in Eastney has been sold for an undisclosed sum to Grand Hotel Excelsior International who will convert the listed building into a luxury hotel.

The museum which is part of the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN) was housed in the former officers’ mess on the Eastney Barracks site from the early 1970s until it closed in 2017 when the museum deemed that the building was no longer suitable.

In its place, plans were unveiled to convert the Action Stations building in the historic dockyard into an attraction which tells the Corps’ outstanding story to a 21st-Century audience, while honouring its rich heritage.

Proceeds from the sale have been split between the NMRN and the Royal Navy, and to support the NMRN’s vision, the Royal Navy agreed to assist the National Museum in moving/storing the Royal Marines’ impressive collection of paintings, weapons, personal effects, uniform and kit – some two million items in all – to a state-of-the-art ‘collections centre’ in Storehouse 12 in the historic dockyard, a move completed the week lockdown began.

The dedicated team working on the project have been working hard over the last couple of months to move the plans along. The sale of Eastney represents a huge milestone in that process as it frees up some capital to support the project.

Dominic Tweddle, National Museum’s director general

The storehouse will be open to the public in 2021, allowing them to view and research the collection, and take tours or enjoy talks from the curators.

That project alone has cost £2m, but the longer-term plan for a new Royal Marines Museum is in limbo after the National Lottery turned down an initial bid for funding. The sale of the Eastney building provides the future plan with a shot in the arm.

“The impact of the pandemic left the future of the National Museum at risk, and meant we did have to take some time away from the project as we fought to secure our future,” said Dominic Tweddle, the National Museum’s director general.

“The dedicated team working on the project have been working hard over the last couple of months to move the plans along. The sale of Eastney represents a huge milestone in that process as it frees up some capital to support the project”.

The historic fabric of the museum building will be preserved, and the iconic statue at the entrance and memorial gardens will remain on the site in the care of the museum.