The Tall Ship Glenlee has landed £1.8 million in funding from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) through its Covid-19 Response Fund, successfully keeping the icon of the River Clyde afloat and securing its future for years to come.
The funding grant comes as the 126-year-old vessel celebrates 30 years back in Glasgow and will support essential inspections and repairs needed to help ensure the ship remains a landmark of cultural importance for the city for another three decades, and beyond.
The NHMF’s Covid-19 response funding stream was set up to save heritage of outstanding importance to the UK that was at risk due to the impact of coronavirus.
Vital checks and repairs to the hull, decks and rigging of the ship are all part of the programme of significant works which will take place over a two-year period, scheduled to be completed in early 2025.
The Tall Ship, which is currently closed to the public, will remain shut until the end of March 2023 for the first phase of repairs, before reopening to the public for the busy summer months. It will close again in early 2024 for a three-month period for more extensive works.
This year will see initial work carried out within the cargo hold, around the foremast step at the front of the ship, the poop deck, which is the raised deck to the rear of the vessel, as well as the bowsprit – an extension which juts out from the bow of the ship and forms part of her iconic silhouette.
The Tall Ship Glenlee will also use the opportunity while closed to carry out a refresh of the chartroom, thanks to additional funding support from Museums Galleries Scotland and The Friends of Glasgow Museums. The chartroom was where navigational and communication equipment was housed to help the ship’s crew to sail safely around the world. The chartroom will be craned off of the ship, then cleaned and varnished with the support of volunteers, while important repairs are carried out on the poop deck.
Next year will see further repairs and updates to the cargo hold the main mast, and mizzen mast, and on the fo’c’sle deck, all of which will make The Tall Ship Glenlee an even better place to visit and learn than ever before.
A raft of specialist contractors, including Dunoon-based organisation Marine Blast, will be brought in to support the work.
Fiona Greer, Development Director at The Tall Ship Glenlee, said: “This £1.8 million funding is a lifeline for maintaining our beloved Clydebuilt vessel and we are overjoyed to have secured it from the National Heritage Memorial Fund through their Covid-19 Respond Fund. The Tall Ship epitomises the last epoch of sailing ships in the world and has become such an iconic part of the Glasgow skyline and the city’s cultural heritage.
“Although there will be spells of closure in the coming years, we are keen to ensure minimum disruption to our loyal visitors and this funding will ensure all of the essential works required can be carried out as soon as possible. We’re also very excited to be working with a host of specialists who we know care about getting The Tall Ship ship-shape as deeply as we do.
“We look forward to seeing the transformation on board over the next two years so The Tall Ship Glenlee can continue inspiring, delighting and educating hundreds of thousands of people for many years to come.”
Dr Simon Thurley CBE, Chair of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, said: “I am thrilled that the National Heritage Memorial Fund is able to support the Tall Ship Glenlee with this vital grant.
“We’re incredibly proud to have committed £20m of funding for some of the UK’s most magnificent heritage sites and assets in order to help them navigate the challenges that have arisen from the pandemic – the £1.8m awarded to the Tall Ship Glenlee is a wonderful example of how the Memorial Fund can help secure our heritage for the future.”
Hannah Cunliffe, Director of National Historic Ships UK, said: “Glenlee is a highly significant vessel on the National Historic Fleet, being symbolic of global trade and a rare surviving example of her kind. After delays in planned maintenance resulting from Covid-19, it's wonderful that the Trust is now in a position to undertake these important repairs so that, thanks to support from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Glenlee can be preserved as an icon of Clyde shipbuilding for many years to come.”
This year marks 30 years since the 126-year-old former merchant navy sailing vessel returned from Spain to be restored and placed back on the River Clyde. The only surviving example of its kind in the UK, the ship is of great historical importance. It circumnavigated the globe five times, sailed the seas carrying cargo in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and survived both World Wars.
Operating as both a landmark and an attraction open to the public, The Tall Ship Glenlee provides a unique space for learning, heritage, enjoyment and community engagement by sharing stories of the people and places involved in the vessel’s rich history. The 19th-century ship welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors each year and is the last remaining three-masted Clyde-built sailing ship still afloat in the UK.
The vessel is owned by The Tall Ship Glenlee Trust, which manages and cares for the vessel and has a mission to share the ship’s rich history and heritage, preserve it for the future, and maintain and celebrate its unique relationship between Glasgow and the world for all to enjoy.