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Future plans of HMS Unicorn progresses despite pandemic

The Unicorn Preservation Society is working to protect and preserve HMS Unicorn for future generations to enjoy this incredible museum and piece of world history

Since 2014, The Unicorn Preservation Society (UPS) has been working to create a sustainable future for HMS Unicorn, which has led to the development of a major maritime project: Operation Safe Haven. HMS Unicorn will form the centre-piece exhibit of the new Dundee Maritime Heritage Centre, acting as a catalyst as Dundee re-discovers and celebrates its maritime past with the next stage of development of the city’s waterfront.

Although the ship was closed for several months and faced many challenges posed by the pandemic, Unicorn is entering one of the most exciting phases in the history of the ship. Work has started on the second phase of the conservation project of this remarkable floating museum. NIRAS, an international consultancy company offering specialist engineering services, have carried out a 3D laser scan and a topographical survey of the ship. T. Nielsen & Co have completed an internal and external timber survey to assess the condition of the ship’s fabric. “For its age, it’s remarkable that so much of it is from when it was first built. We have worked on a lot of ships from the era, such as the HMS Victory, and there is typically not as much of it that is original as what we are seeing here. It’s remarkable that people were able to build ships like this centuries ago that are still around today.” – Quote from Dominic Mills, shipwright from T. Nielsen & Co.

Fenton Holloway, a structural engineering and design company, are drawing on from the work of NIRAS and Nielsen’s to provide a structural analysis of Unicorn to understand the current condition of the ship, which will help to create a design of how to safely berth the ship within the East Graving Dock in the future. Despite limited resource, challenges from the pandemic and lockdown, the UPS and staff have continued work both digitally and onboard, through virtual events and activities as well as progress on internal and external maintenance. HMS Unicorn is now preparing to reopen, resuming its normal operating hours for this summer.

The team continue to work towards museum accreditation with a new collections management system and offsite storage secured for the collection. The volunteer programme onboard HMS Unicorn, which offers fantastic opportunities for the local community to get involved with the ship, has been awarded the Volunteer Friendly Award from Dundee Volunteer & Voluntary Action (DVVA). Over the next few years, Trustees of the Unicorn Preservation Society anticipate a remarkable transformation of the ship and quayside which will ensure the ship’s long-term survival and the construction of a Maritime Heritage Centre.

You can help support this work and the future of the ship by becoming a Friend of HMS Unicorn. Please call 01382 200900 or head to www.hmsunicorn.org.uk/supporting-hms-unicorn to find out more

Quote : Eric Fraser, Chair, Programme Board, HMS Unicorn "A full shipwright survey has now been completed which will allow for the development of a structural analysis and project execution plan. Undoubtedly this is the most significant development for the ship since she was built in 1824 and we are delighted to have this valuable support from Dundee City Council to help us progress our plans."

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