Update on Mossdale from Margaret Harrison

We had to do a lot of thinking about Mossdale over the summer. Here’s an update on the future plans for her and what we’re doing immediately to stabilise her. A survey and assessment of Mossdale was carried out in June by Eura Conservation Ltd. Robert Turner from Eura has a lot of experience of the conservation of historic ships having worked on both SS Great Britain and HMS Victory. We also had expert advice from Richard Fenton of conservation engineers, Fenton Holloway. They’re currently designing the new support structure for HMS Victory. Mossdale is in much poorer condition than was originally anticipated and we’ve been advised that to move her to the slipway would be a huge risk. One option was active intervention to replace enough timber to stabilise her. This would, however, involve replacement of a lot of timber. We would potentially end up with “Grandfather’s Axe”- so much would have to be replaced that we would effectively be building a replica. The other approach, and the one that we’ve decided to take, is preservation of Mossdale as she is. This involves providing sufficient support and a cover to provide a suitable environment for her to dry out. Fenton Holloway provided a suggestion for a timber support frame which would allow us to remove the current steel frame. This approach has been successful for the long-term preservation of other boats, in particular, the “Spry” at Ironbridge. This is what’s been included in the bid to HLF with ongoing conservation support and monitoring. Mossdale is one of the most important boats in the collection. This is not just because of the amount of surviving “original” material but because she has a unique story to tell in her present condition. A preservation approach allows us to provide a real and tangible link to the past. We’ve also been working to do what we can to protect her now. We’ve taken advice from Eura and John Solomon and Millie in the boatyard have built extra supports to make sure she holds her shape. Millie has also been working with Derek Speakman to survey her and monitor any movement. Martyn Kerry and Alex have been weeding her this week and removing the mud. Providing a cover wasn’t straightforward. We’ve had to think of a way of a way to do this working around the frame that she’s currently in and what we’re allowed to do without planning permission. Iain Weston and John Solomon have come up with a plan to make a tent and we’ve ordered the materials. John will be starting work on this as soon as they arrive. Thank you to everyone that has helped.

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