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Time for a new approach on saving historic vessels?

Wednesday, 05 January 2022

Online Zoom Event 19:30 - 21:00

Preserving ships and boats has always been in the “too difficult” box; despite some real successes, over the last 20 years we have seen continuing losses of historic warships, small steamers and sailing vessels. While some operating vessels have benefitted from “staycation” in the last 2 years, others have struggled to run at all. Having a crowd pulling backstory is not the same thing as historical importance and some vessels have no obvious use or potential income stream. How sustainable are some of our current approaches to preserving and operating historic vessels?

Maritime Heritage Trust (MHT) was formed from a merger 10 years ago between Heritage Afloat, the “bottom up” voice for preservationists created in 1994, and the Maritime Trust formed in 1969 under the influence of Prince Philip and which saved many important vessels. In a very different world MHT is now starting on a renewal programme so that it can better help save maritime heritage.

What should our priorities be now?

How can we secure a better future for our survivors. Is a “national maritime treasures” list for a small number with guaranteed funding the way forward or should we continue to look to each vessel to fight its corner? If a vessel cannot be maintained afloat should we bring it ashore into a high profile location where it can be admired as a work of art and history or just “save” key components? Should Museums play more of a role with an incentive to take on important vessels at risk or are they part of the problem rather than the solution?

We are inviting speakers with considerable experience of the sector to stimulate the discussion.

Dan Cross (Marine Superintendent and professional tug skipper) who lead the restoration of the steam tug-tender “Daniel Adamson” will look at losses and threats particularly in the North West where several major vessels have been lost and the Mersey Flat Oakdale, a humble but highly important historical representative is a concern.

Richard Titchener, Executive Officer of the Sea-Change Sailing Trust, who has led and skippered the Blue Mermaid barge replica newbuild project, will talk about how the sector needs to come together again, develop critical mass and get more professional on fund-raising.

Other contributors will include Hannah Cunliffe, Director of National Historic Ships UK, which receives an annual grant from DCMS and is the primary source of advice on historic vessel matters to DCMS, advises National Lottery and acts as the official voice for the sector.