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Sweet reward for Jutland veteran HMS Caroline at tourism awards

Sweet reward for Jutland veteran HMS Caroline at tourism awards
22 November 2017
The Navy's sole survivor from its greatest 20th Century battle has been named the big tourist attraction to see in the UK.

Cruiser HMS Caroline saw action alongside the dreadnoughts of the Grand Fleet when they clashed with the German High Seas Fleet at Jutland in May 1916.

But while the castles of steel were sunk, scuttled or subsequently broken up, Caroline survived; she spent nearly 90 years as the base of the Royal Naval Reserve in Belfast.

When the sailors moved to new premises, ambitious plans to turn Caroline into a floating museum to both Jutland and Irish sailors in WW1 swung into action.

Several years and nearly £20m later and the veteran cruiser has been singled out as the 'large visitor attraction of the year' during the World Travel Market trade fair in London - when holiday/tourism firms and leaders from around the globe pick destinations for the coming season.

It has been a momentous year for the ship and this award is a real feather in our cap

Jamie Wilson, HMS Caroline's general manager

The 4,000-ton light cruiser, intended to scout ahead4 of the main battle fleet, was opened to the public in June 2016 - one of the key attractions in Belfast's regenerated Titanic Quarter (which includes the new hi-tech museum to the ill-fated liner).

She closed over the winter and spring as work on her dock and ticket office (housed in an old pump house) was carried out; Alexandra Dock is being recobbled using original 19th-Century stones with the entire site due to be finished by Easter.

Despite only being open for half a year in 2017, Caroline is expected to pull in 35,000 visitors by December 31.

"It has been a momentous year for the ship and this award is a real feather in our cap," said the cruiser's general manager Jamie Wilson.

"The international audience is incredibly important to Belfast and for us, as a five-star Northern Ireland tourism attraction, to be showcasing an offer to a global market really is impressive."

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