City display hope for Ark Royal memorabilia

MEMORABILIA from HMS Ark Royal could be put on show in Leeds if a Yorkshire MP gets his way.

Pudsey's Stuart Andrew is lobbying Ministers to get items from the retired warship displayed in the city because of its historic links with Leeds.

The city adopted the Ark Royal in November 1941, and when it was torpedoed and sunk just days later local people raised more than 9m towards a replacement.

The Navy's flagship aircraft carrier is, however, being decommissioned earlier than expected along with its fleet of Harriers to save money after the Strategic Defence Review.

Mr Andrew, who has already raised his idea with Defence Secretary Liam Fox, said: "It was suggested to me that a lot of funding for the original ship came from Leeds and it's an incredibly important link.

"I thought if it's going to be decommissioned we should try to have some of the items given by the people of Leeds returned to the city so they can be enjoyed."

The aircraft carrier is the fifth Ark Royal and saw active service in the Balkans and second Gulf War.

The ship will be replaced by the Queen Elizabeth class of aircraft carrier, but this will not come into service until the end of the decade and will carry F35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.

Ark Royal's links with Leeds saw the ship and its crew granted the Freedom of Entry into the city in 1973.

Officials in London are keen for the ship to be moored in the capital and turned into a museum, and aides of Mayor Boris Johnson have been in talks over such a venture. The Ministry of Defence has said it could also be scrapped or sold to another country.