The Night Hunters: Royal Navy Coastal Forces


Project Team

Client: National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN)

Designers: Studio MB

Quantity Surveyor: Studio MB

Exhibition Fit Out: Elmwood Projects


Elmwood were approached by designers Studio MB in the Summer of 2019 to collaborate on this Design & Build project for the National Museum of the Royal Navy (NMRN).

The Night Hunters tells the story of the Royal Navy’s Coastal Forces – high speed wooden attack boats, often manned by reservist volunteers, which served from 1916 to the 1950s. In partnership with the Coastal Forces Heritage Trust (CFHT), the NMRN’s new Exhibition pays tribute to the courageous young men onboard the small boats, which were immortalised as “Spitfires of the Sea” working at high speed and loaded with fuel and ammunition. The Coastal Forces carried out attacks on enemy naval vessels at close range in highly dangerous conditions. The Exhibition also showcases two examples of the historic craft, Coastal Motor Boat CMB331 and Motor Torpedo Boat MTB71.

This major new permanent gallery at the Explosion Museum of Naval Firepower in Gosport is housed in an historic former mine store built in 1899 at Priddy’s Hard; the armament depot that supplied weapons, ammunition and equipment to the Royal Navy. Our Exhibition fit out works took place across four spaces; the Lobby/Reception Area, Main Exhibition Space, Stairwell Space with further interpretation and a Walkway/Viewing Platform. During our on-site installation our team took great care to protect and preserve the historic building fabric and also worked around a number of in-situ artefacts – including the two historic boats which required protection whilst works were carried out to the rest of the gallery spaces.

Our scope of works for this prestigious Exhibition included Setworks and Exhibition furniture, Interactives, Graphics and Decoration plus Electrical & Lighting works. Display cases and AV hardware and software were supplied and installed by NMRN. Close coordination with the Client Conservation Team and Mount Makers was required in order to manoeuvre four large and heavy objects into their final positions within the main exhibition space; a marine engine, anti-aircraft cannon, Holman Projector anti-aircraft weapon and a torpedo.

Contractor Designed elements were also significant within our Exhibition Fit Out works; our team developed a final design to ensure all structural framing was robust, secure and capable of supporting the weight of the Waves & Seascape panels. Another key consideration was that the Setworks should be designed for ease of maintenance by the NMRN team with removable panels which could be safely & easily handled by no more than two people without damaging the artefacts.