HELENSBURGH'S long-awaited submarine history and heritage centre will now open its doors this summer - not at Easter, as was originally planned.

Work is well under way on the outside and inside of the West King Street premises which will provide a home for Scotland's first dedicated submarine museum.

But Brian Keating, from the Scottish Submarine Trust, told the Advertiser that delays in bringing the museum's centrepiece - a Cold War 'midget' submarine - to Scotland had had a knock-on effect on preparations for opening the facility to the public.

The submarine, X-51, was carefully manoeuvred into the building last October, and members of the public were given a brief glimpse of the craft in her new home during the weekend of Remembrance Sunday in November, when Mr Keating said the plan was still to open to the public in time for Easter.

Mr Keating said: "We're on budget, but we had a two-year delay in securing permission for X-51 to be brought to Scotland, which has meant a delay in completion of the centre itself.

"Those delays have been beyond our control, but the official opening will now be on August 23.

"Everything is back on track now, and we're hoping to hold our first private events in June and to have a 'soft launch' over the course of the summer."

Mr Keating said passers-by would see "big changes" to the outside of the building in the course of the next two weeks as wooden cladding is added to an extension to the west of the building.

That extension will serve as the centre's entrance lobby and reception when the facility is complete.

"The internal fit-out is ongoing," Mr Keating continued. "Everything inside is getting really exciting.

"Mapping and video-mapping work is being worked on constantly - and that's all being put together by volunteers from Helensburgh."

Among the interested spectators when X-51 arrived at her new home last October was local councillor and Conservative MSP Maurice Corry, who also serves as Argyll and Bute Council's armed forces champion.

Mr Corry said: "It is always disappointing to hear of delays in projects, however the planning and effort that has been put into obtaining and installing a submarine is simply phenomenal.

“The fact this has been achieved by volunteers is very admirable.

“Brian Keating and his team are doing a wonderful job creating what will become a valuable asset for the town.

“The fact that the delay is only a matter of months is negligible in the long run to allow the town to benefit from this attraction."