SOUTHAMPTON'S heritage steamship has secured a near £200,000 grant that will help secure the vessel's future.

The money, awarded by the Cultural Assets Fund (CAF), will finance 77 per cent of the work that needs doing before Shieldhall embarks on her summer season.

The National Heritage Memorial Fund operates CAF as part of £40m project to safeguard UK heritage attractions that are at risk following the pandemic.

Shieldhall needs repairs as a result of being mothballed at the height of the Covid crisis.

Daily Echo: Shieldhall will return to dry dock in Falmouth for vital repairs to her hull.Shieldhall will return to dry dock in Falmouth for vital repairs to her hull.

Chief engineer Graham Mackenzie said: "Shieldhall’s hull has been damaged by excessive bio-fouling - barnacles and mussels - which formed because the ship was stationary between October 2019 and April 2021.

"In any normal year bio-fouling would be minimised by the self-polishing action of the anti-fouling coating as the ship moves through the water.

"Because the ship has been laid-up extensive accretion has compromised the hull’s protective coating, exposing steel to seawater corrosion. "The only remedy is to dry-dock the ship in Falmouth, replace or repair corroded hull plates and apply a modern anti-fouling system."

The work will result in the renewal of Shieldhall's passenger certification in time for its 2022 cruise season, which starts on May 28."

Daily Echo: Shieldhall's 2022 cruise season is due to start at the end of May.Shieldhall's 2022 cruise season is due to start at the end of May.

John Rose, chairman of the Steamship Shieldhall Charity, said: "We are very grateful to the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

"Their support of almost £200,000 has given us the perfect boost after a challenging 24 months which have resulted in severe risk to the fabric of the vessel.

"Shieldhall had a shortened sailing season in 2021 after returning from dry dock in Falmouth, where the extent of the necessary restorative work became clear.

"The completion of the work will give our volunteers the security and confidence to go about their roles, safe in the knowledge that Shieldhall has a secure future.

"We will be able to continue her planned summer sailings and to open up Shieldhall as an ‘alongside venue’."

Simon Thurley, chairman of the memorial fund, added: "Vital repair work will ensure that Shieldhall, one of England’s most important historic vessels, will continue to be fully operational for years to come.”