A major piece of Northern Ireland’s wartime military history is to get a new lease of life as it prepares to go on display in Carrick.
Renovation work is underway on a Belfast built WW2 Churchill Mark V11 tank which, once completed, will be given a new home at Marine Gardens in the borough.
The restoration project will pull together a diverse team from keen amateurs and Army Reservists, but also experts from the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland and young people from the Hydebank Centre.
The exciting new project will be launched at a ceremony today (Thursday) October at the North Irish Horse base at Dunmore Park Army Reserves Centre off Belfast’s Antrim Road.
The project is being carried out not only through hard work of volunteers but also with a grant award of £58,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund through their Our Heritage grant programme.
Paul Mullan Head of Heritage Lottery Fund said: “The Heritage Lottery Fund was delighted to support this project focused on telling a unique part our military and industrial heritage story. The Churchill tank is a symbol of a rich and diverse heritage as many of NI’s large manufacturing industries played a key role in the World Wars from building planes, ships and tanks through to munitions and even rope works. We wish the project team well as they embark on the restoration work.”
Churchill tanks were a mainstay of the army from their initial introduction at the end of the First World War. The tanks were refined and redesigned several times until the Mark VII was finalised and became one of the most effective armoured fighting vehicles used by the allies. Churchill tanks were designed and produced by Belfast’s Harland and Wolffe. During the Blitz, the frequent attempts to bomb the shipyards and docks led to the creation of new safer locations to continue manufacturing the tanks, including the Woodburn Road in Carrickfergus.
The restoration of the tank will link in with research on the industrial and military heritage of Carrickfergus and the heritage of the North Irish Horse who used the Churchill tanks during the war.