The finishing touches have been made to the restored MK V11 Churchill tank located at Marine Gardens in Carrickfergus.
A permanent interpretative board was recently mounted at the seafront location to replace the temporary one in use since the tank was unveiled by HM Lord Lieutenant for County Antrim, Joan Christie OBE on Armed Forces Day 2014.
The restoration and community heritage project have been supported by the National Lottery and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund for Northern Ireland.
Named ‘Carrickfergus’ after the vehicle of that name had been in service with C Squadron the North Irish Horse during WWII, the tank was placed in Marine Gardens to serve as a reminder of the rich industrial and military historical links shared by the citizens of the town.
Speaking after the recent unveiling ceremony, the Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Billy Ashe said: “For a garrison town such as Carrickfergus to have a fully-refurbished Churchill Tank on display is a tremendous honour and I would like to commend all of those who have been involved from the outset.
“I was delighted as mayor to officially unveil the new permanent interpretative panel in front of the tank which provides many interesting facts and figures regarding the tank which has undoubtedly become a popular attraction in Marine Gardens.
“A further plaque will shortly be erected at the former site of the tank factory on the Woodburn Road which I welcome.”
The Churchill tank was, MEA Council points out, arguably the most efficient infantry support tank used by the allied forces in WWII.
It had its genesis in Carrickfergus: Harland & Wolff developed the original model of the tank, the famous A20, at its factory on the Woodburn Road.
David McCorkell on behalf of the North Irish Horse Trustees commented: “It was a pleasure and a privilege for the regiment to work with the local community on this interesting and unique heritage project.”
Jacqueline Stewart, principal of Downshire School, said: “At the outset of the project, many pupils at the school constructed a life-sized replica of the Churchill Tank.
“This project opened up a number of opportunities, learning experiences and became a fantastic vehicle (no pun intended) to motivate pupils to participate in a wide range of activities.”