Southampton’s heritage steamship, SS Shieldhall, has received a Heritage Emergency Grant which will assist the former ‘Flagship of the National Historic Fleet’ to re-start the essential maintenance programme that was hastily halted as a result of the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Shieldhall’s team of volunteers were forced to cancel her 2020 sailing programme earlier in the summer, missing out on excursions set to include a celebration of her 65th birthday and 200 years of steamships operating out of Southampton.
The funding, made possible by National Lottery players, was awarded through The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Heritage Emergency Fund, targeting those most in need across the heritage sector.
The UK-wide fund will address both immediate emergency actions and help organisations to start thinking about recovery.
Shieldhall’s Graham Mackenzie noted: ‘We are thankful for the grant funding which will enable our volunteers to continue with Shieldhall’s maintenance and conservation work, supporting the fund objectives of economic regeneration, inclusion and well-being. Everyone was so disappointed when we were forced to cancel our 2020 sailings. With no revenue coming in from ticket sales, this grant will assist us to maintain our work programme. Many of our approximately 100 active volunteers are now returning to the COVID-19 compliant ship, carrying out essential maintenance roles. Behind-the-scenes, a new website will be launched next month, together with details of our 2021 trips, the earliest we have ever published. We will be looking to re-instate a number of this years cancelled sailings including trips to the Needles, The Nab Tower and Poole, and will mark Solent sailing events such as the Round the Island and Fastnet Races. The project allows us to stage a full, uncompromised excursion programme. This will be open to all, including popular ‘Heritage Adventure Training Days’ offered to young people, enabling them to enjoy time on board one of Britain’s last sea-going steamships.’
Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Heritage has an essential role to play in making communities better places to live, supporting economic regeneration and benefiting our personal wellbeing. All of these things are going to be even more important as we emerge from this current crisis.
“Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players we are pleased to be able to lend our support to organisations such as SS Shieldhall during this uncertain time.”
Like SS Shieldhall, other charities and organisations across the UK that have been affected by the unprecedented impact of the coronavirus outbreak are being given access to a comprehensive package of support of up to £600 million of repurposed money from The National Lottery. This money is supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our communities and span the arts, community, charity, heritage, education, environment and sports sectors.
Thanks to National Lottery players, £30 million is raised every week for good causes, including heritage of local and national importance. By playing The National Lottery, people up and down the country are making an amazing contribution to the nationwide-response to combatting the impact of COVID-19 on local communities across the UK.
Steamship Shieldhall is one of the UK’s most significant historic ships. She is the country’s last and largest cargo steam ship and is one of just 200 vessels forming the National Historic Fleet (equivalent significance is to being Grade I listed in historic building terms). As a member of the Fleet she is recognised by National Historic Ships as being of pre-eminent significance, providing an insight into the UK’s maritime history and technology and meriting the highest priority for long term preservation. Central to Shieldhall’s significance is the fact that she remains fully operational, each year providing thousands of people with the opportunity to experience steam-powered sea travel.
Built in 1955, (and celebrating her 65th birthday in July 2020) Shieldhall was constructed to traditional lines and consequently her classic lines are more evocative of the 1920s than the 1950s. She forms an important connection with steam ships and the Merchant Navy of the pre-Second World War era, representing the thousands of cargo steam ships built by Britain for the merchant fleets of the world.
Shieldhall remains substantially unchanged since the time of her construction. Her hull and superstructure are as they were when she was built. Her boilers and steam engines are original and of a similar configuration to those of far earlier vessels, such as RMS Titanic.
Notes to editors
About Steamship Shieldhall
Steamship Shieldhall’s 2020 sailing programme was due to commence in May, but was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. For more information, please visit: www.ss-shieldhall.co.uk/bookings.
Shieldhall is run entirely by volunteers, and for the past two years has been listed as the ‘Number One Thing to Do in Southampton’ on TripAdvisor.
The National Lottery Heritage Fund is currently open to applications for its Heritage Emergency Fund. To find out more visit: https://www.heritagefund.org.uk/responding-coronavirus-covid-19
To find out more about the National Lottery Good Causes , visit: www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/coronavirus-pandemic-response
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