Margaret Thatcher admirers plan library and museum in her memory

Iron Lady’s admirers aim to create new visitor attraction to celebrate her life and achievements

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 15 April, 2013, 4:32am


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Admirers of late British prime minister Margaret Thatcher plan to create a new library and museum in London to celebrate her legacy and shape the future of conservative politics.

Backers revealed they aimed to raise £15 million (HK$178 million) in private funding for the new institution, where visitors would be able to see artefacts including Thatcher's trademark handbags and blue skirt-suits.

Britain's only female prime minister, who was in power between 1979 and 1990, died last Monday at age 87.

The planned library is based on the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in California, which houses millions of documents, photographs and artefacts from the former US president's time in power.

"The centre will be a place for scholars, students and tourists alike to come and learn about the remarkable life, the unique achievements and the core values of Margaret Thatcher," said Ben Elliot, chairman of the project's trustees.

The Iron Lady's death has sparked fierce debate about her legacy. Admirers say she helped to end the Cold War and rescued the British economy after years of decline. But critics accuse her of wrecking communities and putting millions out of work with her radical free-market reforms.

On Saturday night, hundreds of Thatcher's opponents filled London's Trafalgar Square to celebrate her death.

Former coal miners involved in the year-long strike against her government in the 1980s joined far-left activists and students to drink to her demise. An effigy of Thatcher was carried through the crowd, complete with a string of pearls and bouffant hair made from orange plastic bags.

There was a strong police presence but the atmosphere was more street carnival than riot, with people of all ages dancing, playing tambourines and blowing whistles.

There were a few scuffles and nine people were arrested, five for being drunk and disorderly.