Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Minutes of Evidence



Memorandum submitted by the Heritage Lottery Fund

THE PRESERVATION OF HISTORIC SHIPS

  Building on its earlier inquiries, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee has requested a memorandum which identifies what the Heritage Lottery Fund has done:

    —  in response to the report of the National Historic Ships Committee;

    —  in relation to the City of Adelaide/Carrick;

    —  alongside the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) towards the development of a coherent policy framework for the preservation of the UK's historic ships.

STRATEGIC CONTEXT

  Through the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) the Trustees of the National Heritage Memorial Fund distribute funds raised through the National Lottery to heritage projects and activities. In doing this we aim to:

    —  conserve and enhance the UK's diverse heritage;

    —  encourage more people to be involved in and make decisions about their heritage;

    —  ensure everyone can learn about, have access to, and enjoy their heritage.

  HLF supports maritime heritage projects within this context.

 

LOTTERY FUNDING FOR HISTORIC SHIPS

  HLF has provided considerable support for our maritime heritage, and we remain fully committed to maritime heritage as part of our broad range of operations. To date we have committed 25.7 million to 33 historic vessels projects (in a number of cases works have been phased so the number of individual grants is higher). This figure can be placed in the context of others awards to parts of the industrial, maritime and transport heritage. For example, we made 32 awards to train restoration projects, to a value of 3.5 million.

  Projects range from tugboats to paddle steamers, from battleships to fishing vessels and include, most recently, an award of 7.74 million for SS Great Britain to conserve and develop the fabric of the ship and its surrounding historic dock and buildings, along with providing visitor and educational facilities. We also support projects involving the acquisition, repair, conservation and restoration of buildings, sites, items and collections relating to maritime heritage—examples range from our support for the National Maritime Museum through to the restoration and opening up of Chatham Historic Dockyard.

THE NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC VESSELS

  In 1997 Heritage Lottery Fund awarded a grant of 152,335 to the National Historic Ships Committee (NHSC) to complete its work to produce a register of historic vessels in the UK.

  The project is now complete and the NHSC have published the National Register of Historic Vessels (NRHV). The Core Collection of the register lists vessels considered to be of pre-eminent national significance in terms of maritime heritage, historic association or technological innovation. The Designated Vessels list comprises vessels considered to be of considerable heritage merit, but perhaps of a more regional or vernacular significance.

  Where vessels fall within the Register's coverage (pre-1945, British built and over 40 feet and/or 40 tons) it provides valuable, peer-reviewed framework for the assessment of the heritage merit of applications for grant from historic vessels organisations. In such cases, we take into account a vessel's inclusion on the register in considering applications for funding. In addition, as with all applications for funding under our main grants programme, we expect an application for a historic vessel to show conservation benefits, and demonstrate access and other benefits for the public. We also assess the financial viability of the project and the strengths of the applicant organisation before reaching a decision. Inclusion on the NRHV is therefore an important, but not an overriding, determinant of funding. To date ten of the vessels we have funded appear in the NRHV Core Collection and a further five on the list of designated vessels. Other awards have been to smaller vessels that do not qualify for inclusion on the register or to projects run by smaller scale interest groups demonstrating wide public benefits.

BROADER ISSUES

  More recently we have added to our understanding of historic vessels by commissioning research more widely across transport heritage. The research was undertaken by the Transport Trust and looked at a variety of forms of transport, including smaller vessels not covered by the NHSC register. The resulting report is available on our website. We have in hand proposals for a conference on transport heritage later this year to explore further the issues raised by the report, for example the availability of specialist conservation skills and the potential to open up transport heritage to a wider audience.

  We will shortly be publishing our second Strategic Plan for the period 2002-07. This reflects our experience to date together with an extensive consultation exercise. The approach we have adopted to funding historic vessels to date will continue to sit well within our new strategic framework. The consultation exercise supported our view that, with a few exceptions, we should avoid grant programmes which allocate fixed sums to specific categories of heritage. This encourages the broadest constituency of applicants and facilitates a creative and multidisciplinary approach to project development. We have therefore moved away from sectoral funding allocations and do not envisage a discrete funding stream for historic vessels.

THE CITY OF ADELAIDE/CARRICK

  This vessel forms part of the NHRV's Core Collection and has historic importance to the heritage of Scotland, the North East of England and Australia.

  We have to date received no formal application for grant for the restoration of the Carrick.

  We have previously discussed options with its current owners, the Scottish Maritime Museum, and advised them that should there be an urgent need for works to secure the vessel's condition while discussions about its future continue, then we may consider an application for a limited amount of funding for this specific purpose.

  We understand that the Museum has concluded that its own priorities would put the restoration of its Linthouse building to house and improve public access to its valuable core collection, ahead of the restoration of the Carrick and that an alternative home would provide a more secure long-term future for the Carrick. The Museum has been pressing members of both the Scottish and UK parliaments to assist in brokering a solution.

  There has been interest in relocating it to Adelaide or to Sunderland (where it was built), and the Maritime Trust has taken a role in negotiations. Should the vessel move to Adelaide it would not be appropriate for lottery funds to contribute to the costs of preparing and transporting the vessel to Australia; our remit must remain focused on projects within the UK. We believe that Sunderland Council has set up a working group to consider options but we have to date had no approach from Sunderland Council.

THE POLICY FRAMEWORK FOR HISTORIC VESSELS

  It is not the locus of HLF, as a funding body, to develop national policy for any individual heritage sector.

  We have always been, and continue to be, very willing to contribute our expertise, by virtue of our activity to date in this sector, to the process of policy development. For example, last year we joined NHSC in a meeting with Alan Howarth, at the time the Minister at DCMS responsible for policy in this area, to discuss how to take this forward subsequent to the publication of the NRHV. As DCMS progresses its thinking we remain ready to play a role. We agree with the Committee that the delivery of a coherent policy framework is finally a responsibility of government.

March 2002

 


 
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