Southampton's heritage steamship SS Shieldhall has received a Heritage Emergency Grant to restart an essential maintenance programme halted due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
Built in 1955, Shieldhall is the UK's last and largest cargo steamship, and is one of just 200 vessels forming the National Historic Fleet (an equivalent significance to being Grade I listed in historic building terms).
Shieldhall's team of volunteers were forced to cancel the vessel's 2020 sailing programme earlier in the summer, missing out on excursions set to include a celebration of its 65th birthday and 200 years of steamships operating out of Southampton.
The grant to get the ship going again was made possible by National Lottery players, and awarded through a scheme targeting those most in need across the heritage sector.
Shieldhall's Graham Mackenzie said: '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.'
A new website is also being prepared, which will be launched shortly, together with details of the 2021 trips.
Mr Mackenzie said the Shieldhall would re-instate a number of 2020's cancelled sailings including trips to the Needles, The Nab Tower and Poole. It will also mark Solent sailing events such as the Round the Island and Fastnet Races.
- find out more about SS Shieldhall