The Friends of Newport Ship fully support the work of Newport City Council in the continuing conservation of the timbers and all the other artefacts that are part of this amazing treasure – ‘the Newport Medieval Ship’.
The ‘conservation phase’ of the project will continue until all the timbers are returned from Mary Rose Archaeological Services (MRSA) where the contents of the last tank of saturated timbers are being ‘freeze-dried’ and will be returned in batches as and when ready. The conserved timbers are being stored in the climate-controlled spaces in the Ship Centre and can be viewed through the double-glazed windows purchased by FoNS and fitted by the team.
The next stage of the project is the real big one! To date, this project has cost the public purse over £9 million, but this is a minor sum when compared to the construction of a suitable maritime museum hall in Newport to host the re-assembly and display of our massive vessel.
Remember that our Ship was over 35m (118ft) long and 8.9m (28ft) wide. From the bottom of the keel to the uppermost timbers that we have is over 4.2m and the optimal display being discussed with partners suggests that the keel needs to be over 2m above the ground so that visitors can truly appreciate the vast construction. We also want to allow visitors to look down into the vessel from above – so we need at least 9m of headroom!
Our initial efforts are to convince Newport City Council that we must progress towards the next phase. For this we need:
- agreement in princple from Newport City Council that this project will continue and provide a massive draw for heritage tourism in Newport and across SE Wales;
- continuing support of Friends, Sponsors and the general public, clearly demonstrating the demand for further action;
- sound plans for a number of options for locations in which our vessel can be re-assembled (under the watchful eyes of the general public) and displayed for its full lifespan of perhaps 500 years;
- to seek funding partners both from the public sector (Heritage Lottery Fund) and from other sources of major grant funding.
We also want to see other vessels displayed alongside this ‘Welsh Mary Rose’. In our stores we also have another wonderful vessel – the ‘Barland’s Farm Boat’, a 12m long Celtic-Romano boat that dates from around 390 – when the Roman legion at Caerleon controlled the Gwent and Somerset Levels specifically for the breading of horses. More significant vessels are in store at National Museum of Wales archive at Nantgarw which could help tell the story of maritime connections in South Wales.