U-534, one of only four German World War II U-boats still preserved, is getting a new lease on life. A multimillion-pound project is underway at Woodside, Birkenhead, England, to give the vessel a long-overdue restoration, spearheaded by the group Big Heritage.
To augment the effort, Big Heritage has created an engagement site where naval history enthusiasts worldwide can contribute their thoughts and ideas for the project. The group also has launched “How To Fix A U-Boat,” a website offering an inside look at the day-to-day restoration and planning work.
The Type IXC/40 U-boat was attacked and sunk by two Royal Air Force Liberator bombers in the Kattegat sea between Denmark and Sweden on 5 May 1945. Discovered by a Danish wreck diver in 1986 and raised from the seabed by a Dutch salvage company in 1993, she later was moved to Birkenhead, England, where she became a star exhibit at the Warship Preservation Trust’s Birkenhead Docks museum. When that facility closed, U-534 was moved in sections to the Woodside Ferry Terminal in Merseyside. There, she was the centerpiece of the “U-Boat Story” museum, which opened in 2009 and closed in 2020.
Custodianship of U-534 was given to Big Heritage in late 2021. The group, which also operates the Western Approaches Museum in Liverpool, plans to build a new museum attraction around the U-boat. “Acquiring U-534 gives us the irresistible opportunity to tell the story of the Battle of the Atlantic from both sides,” stated Big Heritage in a press release. “The new attraction will be a key part of the wider regeneration of the local area.”
The press release also notes, “However, the U-534 project is of international significance, so we’re welcoming feedback from anyone with an interest, wherever they may be. Enthusiasts, historians, students, parents, tourists . . . we want to know what will make it a compelling experience for you, while we work to preserve this incredible relic for generations to come. Do you have ideas, thoughts or concerns you’d like to share with the U-boat’s new custodians?”
Contributing ideas to the project is quick and easy with no registration or personal details needed. Users can leave comments or suggestions on an “Idea Wall,” add pins to a map of the area, or take a short survey, as well as voting on other users’ posts.
To visit the engagement site, go to www.placed-engagement.org.uk/u-boat-story.
To follow the progress at “How to Fix a U-Boat,” go to www.howtofixauboat.com.