THE future of HMS Warrior has been secured with the help of a £2.6m lottery grant.
Without vital repair works the ship, launched in 1860 as part of Queen Victoria’s notorious Black Battle Fleet, would be at significant risk.
But the cash from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) means that urgent repairs can be carried out on the warship, which is in the Historic Dockyard.
Carole Souter, chief executive of HLF, said: ‘When she was built, HMS Warrior was at the forefront of marine technology, a symbol of the UK’s immense naval prowess.
‘This lottery grant will ensure she is safeguarded for future generations to explore and will give today’s visitors the opportunity to better understand her role in our rich naval heritage.’
The bulwarks and water bar that make the junction between the deck and iron hull watertight have failed and are deteriorating to a point which places the future of the ship at significant risk.
Essential conservation work to replace the bulwarks and water bar on both sides of the upper deck must be carried out.
The complex and skilled work will now be undertaken in sections over the next two years and will protect both the ship and public access to her.
The restoration works are part of the wider £3.6m project HMS Warrior 1860 – Revealing the Secrets of Shipwrights and Sailors’ which will see the archive collections digitised.
Commander Tim Ash, captain and chief executive of HMS Warrior 1860, said: ‘The Warrior Preservation Trust is delighted with this successful bid.
‘Not only will the funding allow the ship’s essential preservation to get under way, but also the opportunity to introduce more for the visitor to see and learn about HMS Warrior’s extraordinary history.’
HMS Warrior was the largest, fastest and most powerful ship of her day and rendered every other warship afloat instantly obsolete.
She was also the world’s first iron-hulled, armoured warship.
Rear Admiral Neil Latham CBE, the incoming chairman of the Warrior Preservation Trust, thanked predecessor Rear Admiral David Bawtree for his leadership of the project.
He added; ‘This is excellent news for HMS Warrior. It is very rewarding to see that years of dedication are paying off with this secured support from the HLF.
‘Once complete, Warrior will provide a dynamic visitor experience, excellent community engagement and research opportunities whilst securing the future of this remarkable ship for future generations.’