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HRH The Princess Royal ‘breaks ground’ on Barrow’s first university campus

Photography: Josh Brandwood

The University of Cumbria, BAE Systems Submarines and partners welcomed Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal to Barrow-in-Furness.

Her Royal Highness visited the dockside site where the university’s campus is to be constructed, adjacent to BAE Systems' Submarine Academy for Skills and Knowledge (SASK) on Barrow Island.

Full image gallery here

Her Royal Highness learned more about how the campus forms part of the Barrow Learning Quarter – one of seven projects in the ambitious #BrilliantBarrow scheme – followed by her ‘breaking ground’ on the construction site, using a shovel that was produced for the occasion by a team of BAE Systems employees. 

Granted £25 million from the UK Government £3.6 billion Towns Funds, Brilliant Barrow is designed to transform the area for future generations, helping it thrive as a great place to live, work, study and visit.

As the largest #BrilliantBarrow project, Barrow Learning Quarter focuses on transforming educational opportunities and skill building in and for the region, doing so by providing the new university campus and a skills hub for sixth form students at Furness College’s Rating Lane site.

Increasing the workforce and higher-level skills base for Westmorland and Furness and wider Cumbria, Barrow Learning Quarter will provide accessible, inclusive and innovative further and higher education opportunities and progression routes for those living, working and coming into the area.

This ‘once-in-a-generation' opportunity to address the skills need of the region is a collaborative creation developed by the University of Cumbria in partnership with Furness College and others including BAE Systems, Lancaster University, and Westmorland and Furness Council.

Barrow Learning Quarter is closely aligned with the needs of local employers, improving long-term career and job prospects, and enhancing the competitiveness of businesses.

This autumn, BAE Systems was awarded £3.95 billion from the Ministry of Defence to embark on the next phase of the UK’s next-generation Royal Navy submarine programme, known as SSN-AUKUS.

The funding covers development work to 2028, enabling BAE Systems to move into the detailed design phase of the programme. The award will also fund significant investment in the Barrow shipyard, investment in the supply chain, and recruitment of more than 5,000 people.

Developing a full university presence in Barrow will help attract and retain talented graduates to meet this and other skills needs of the area. 

Degree-level programmes are available from the University of Cumbria in project management, business, computing and engineering. Once the campus is completed, it will be the base for the university’s Institute of Engineering, Computing and Advanced Manufacturing that was established earlier this year. Current timescales are for the construction work to be completed by the end of 2024 with the campus officially opening January 2025. 

Professor Julie Mennell DL, Vice Chancellor, University of Cumbria, said: “At this important time for Barrow, a new university campus here will not only drive our mission to transform lives and livelihoods in our communities but will contribute to the future growth and prosperity of the area. 

‘’With our industry, education and other partners, together we are thrilled to be sharing with Her Royal Highness our passion and focus on achieving a lasting impact for Barrow-in-Furness and the wider area, supporting young people and learners now and for generations to come.”

Steve Timms, Managing Director of BAE Systems Submarines, said: "It is a privilege to welcome Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal to our Submarines site to mark the beginning of work on the new University of Cumbria campus and to show her the vital work we do in supporting the Royal Navy. 

"Built alongside our own Submarines Academy for Skills and Knowledge, the new facility will take tertiary education in Barrow and Furness to a new level and we are very proud to be part of this exciting project, especially given the future we now see."

Steve Cole, CIO & Operational Improvement Director at BAE Systems Ltd and Chair of the Brilliant Barrow Town Deal Board, said: "The projects that make up the Brilliant Barrow Town Deal are ambitious for this area and the people in it. Offering a university education within a dedicated campus setting here in Barrow has the potential to change the lives and the future of so many people for generations to come.

‘’I am delighted and very proud to be able to welcome Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal to the Submarines Academy for Skills and Knowledge to see the campus site as work gets underway - a very important milestone in the journey of this special project."

Also during the trip, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal visited Nuclear Transport Solutions’ (NTS) home port, and received a tour of its facilities and closer look at its world-leading operations.

The occasion marked the first royal visit hosted by NTS, with The Princess Royal given a unique opportunity to explore one of Pacific Nuclear Transport Limited’s (PNTL) specialist nuclear vessels, and a state-of-the-art Direct Rail Services (DRS) locomotive.

NTS, the global leader in nuclear transportation and logistics solutions, and owner of DRS and PNTL, welcomed Her Royal Highness onto Pacific Heron, one of only three specialist nuclear vessels in the world. She was also given a rare glimpse inside one of the state-of-the-art Class 68 locomotives used to support the transportation of nuclear material around the UK.

The visit offered a unique opportunity to learn more about NTS’s global nuclear operations, the rigorous safety measures, cutting-edge technology and diverse range of skills involved in the transportation of nuclear materials.

Wanda Goldwag Chair of NTS said: ‘’The visit by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal is a significant event for NTS as it underscores the importance of safe and secure nuclear transportation, and the critical role it plays in energy security and low carbon electricity. It also serves as a recognition of the dedication and professionalism of the fantastic individuals we have working at NTS.’’

For the final part of her visit to Barrow, the Princess Royal visited the Barrow Citizen’s Advice building.

She’s the Patron of the charity and one of more than 300 charities she’s involved in.

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