Help to pass on conservation skills

The National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port (formerly the Boat Museum), in partnership with National Historic Ships, has received £110k from Heritage Lottery Fund’s ‘Skills for the Future’ programme to help expand its successful Heritage Boatyard operation.


The funding means the museum will be able to employ more trainees, vastly increasing its ability to conserve its collection of historic canal boats.

Through the training programme, the trainees will develop skills in traditional boat building whilst helping to conserve boats listed on the National Register of Historic Vessels (NRHV), a number of which are based at the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port.


John Inch, Museum Manager, said: “It is absolutely fantastic to get this funding. It is vital to our ambition of creating a sustainable working boatyard at the Museum. As well as maintaining and restoring our historic boats, it will help us to keep these important heritage skills alive by allowing us to train more people.”


The Heritage Boatyard has been developed in partnership between The Waterways Trust, the Boat Museum Society, National Historic Ships and West Cheshire College. The funding will pay for new trainees to work at a range of other sites including:

· Windermere Steamboat Museum – working on a unique collection of leisure vessels listed on the NRHV

· Harker’s Yard Pioneer Skills Centre, Essex – helping maintain the sailing smack Pioneer as well as restoring other historic vessels and building new craft

· Project Boleh, Portsmouth – working on the conservation of Boleh, a junk yacht listed on the NRHV

· Brinklow Boat Services – gaining experience of working with both metal and wood at this well-established boatyard

John continued: “There is a serious shortfall of heritage boat building skills, especially in the inland waterways sector. By the end of their placements, the trainees will have undertaken extensive work on the collection of historic canal boats at the National Waterways Museum and will be highly competent in practical boat building skills and will be able to work on any project within the maritime and inland waterways heritage sector.


“The expansion of our working boatyard further broadens the appeal and relevance of the National Waterways Museum to today’s audiences. It is fantastic that visitors are able to see restoration work in action with young and old working together.”


Hannah Cunliffe, Policy & Project Manager for National Historic Ships, said: ‘The decline in skills and facilities to maintain the UK’s National Historic Fleet has been of growing concern to National Historic Ships and I am delighted that HLF has supported our joint application with the National Waterways Museum. This project will focus on the transfer of knowledge in heritage techniques and will develop associated accreditation to ensure that future generations have the necessary expertise to conserve our maritime heritage at the level its significance deserves’.

The vacancies will be advertised through The Waterways Trust towards the end of 2010 and will be aimed at young people aged 18-25 but are likely to also appeal to people looking for a change of career.

Who looks after what?
The Waterways Trust
is a national charity which works in partnership with individuals, communities and organisations to conserve, restore, improve and interpret all aspects of the UK’s inland waterways.  It owns and operates three waterways museums. www.thewaterwaystrust.org.uk

The National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port, together with the Waterways Museum at Gloucester Docks and Canal Museum at Stoke Bruerne, house the designated inland waterways collection.  Together with the Waterways Archive, these museums bring to life the fascinating story of our waterways.  www.nwm.org.uk


National Historic Ships advises the Department of Culture, Media & Sport and a range of grant giving organisations on priorities for ship preservation and is the official voice for historic vessels in the UK.  It maintains the National Register of Historic Vessels, which lists over a thousand significant craft including vessels from the National Waterways Museum collection.

Shipshape Network is a National Historic Ships’ initiative which provides a UK-wide communications and marketing framework for everyone with an interest in ship preservation.  It promotes the regeneration of associated heritage skills & facilities in regions across the UK, with the Heritage Boatyard a key player in the Shipshape Mersey region.


The Heritage Lottery Fund’s Skills for the Future programme is supporting heritage organisations across the UK to create new training places. Grants range from £100,000 to £1million for a number of traineeships with an emphasis on high-quality work-based training. The programme will help equip organisations to engage with the widest possible range of people and inspire them to get involved with heritage.


Heritage Lottery Fund

– Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported 33,900 projects, allocating £4.4billion across the UK. Website: www.hlf.org.uk .