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Southampton’s heritage steamship, SS Shieldhall, awarded £200,000

The volunteer team at Southampton’s Steamship Shieldhall have received the news that their application to the Cultural Assets Fund (CAF), has been successful. The Steamship Shieldhall Charity, which maintains the Shieldhall, will receive £196,415, 77% of the estimated total project costs, with additional funding coming from the charity’s reserves and through member donations.

The National Heritage Memorial Fund is administering the CAF funding as part of its £40million UK-wide COVID-19 Response Fund, to safeguard nationally important heritage which is at risk due to the pandemic. The COVID-19 Response Fund includes the £20million DCMS CAF available to heritage organisations in England, boosted by a further £20million of NHMF funds to support UK-wide organisations.

This vital funding will enable a project to repair underwater hull damage to the steamship, which has occurred as a direct result of the vessel being mothballed and static due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chief Engineer Graham Mackenzie said:

‘Shieldhall’s hull has been damaged by excessive biofouling, in the form of barnacles and mussels, which had formed because the ship was stationary for 1 ½ years between October 2019 and April 2021. In any normal year, biofouling would be minimised by the self-polishing action of the anti-fouling coating as the ship moves through the water. Because the ship has been laid-up, however, extensive accretion has compromised the hull’s protective coating, exposing steel to seawater corrosion.

The only remedy given this situation is to drydock the ship in spring 2022 in Falmouth, clean the hull, remove the remaining areas of compromised coating, replace or repair corroded hull plates and apply a modern anti-fouling system. This award will help us to achieve this aim, and the renewal of our passenger certification ahead of the 2022 sailing season, commencing on 28 May’.

Shieldhall Charity Chairman John Rose was delighted with the award:

‘We are very grateful to the National Heritage Memorial Fund for their support of almost £200,000, which has given us the perfect boost after a challenging 24 months that has resulted in severe risk to the fabric of the vessel. Shieldhall had a shortened sailing season in 2021 after returning from Dry Dock in Falmouth, when the extent of necessary restorative work became clear.

The completion of project work will give our volunteers the security and confidence to go about their roles, safe in the knowledge that Shieldhall has a secure future. We will be able to continue her planned summer sailings and to open up Shieldhall as an ‘alongside venue’.

Each year some 25,000 volunteer hours are invested in Shieldhall, with our volunteers sharing a passion to keep Shieldhall ‘Alive and a Steaming’ and a proud member of the National Historic Fleet. We have recently been able to announce a new addition to our 2022 cruise programme, a cruise into Portsmouth Harbour on Sunday 17 July. On that trip, we will salute other members of the National Historic Fleet, including HMS Victory and The Mary Rose, with Shieldhall very much an ‘operational ship’, thanks to the Cultural Assets Fund award and the ongoing commitment of our volunteers’.




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