In these times of financial restraint, charities and good causes find it harder to get money to continue their good work. At the same time more people than ever are playing the British National Lottery and Euromillions prize draw in the hope that they will win a prize that would remove their monetary worries.
Fortunately around 28% of the money received by the two lotteries is used to fund worthwhile projects around the United Kingdom. This means the players of the British National Lottery and Euromillions prize draw are helping cash-strapped charities.
A group of enthusiasts in Southampton have just received one such award. For a number of years, the steamship SS Shieldhall has been carefully tended by a group of enthusiasts but modern standards have meant an extra burden on their finances and the real possibility that the ship might have ended up in the scrapyard.
In June 2012, the Heritage Lottery Fund provided £143,600 as a contribution towards a full inspection in a dry dock in Falmouth to identify any problems with the Shieldhall. This was given following a busy period for the volunteers of Solent Steam Packet Limited, the company responsible for the ship, which participated in the celebrations surrounding the Cunard Jubilee celebrations and in the Titanic anniversary commemorations.
Hard work by volunteers was rewarded again on 2 April 2013 when the Heritage Lottery Fund announced it’s support of a 3-year project, ‘Saving Shieldhall – Learning Through Conservation in Action.’ The funding for the scheme now totals £1.4 million and enables a programme of major repairs and modifications.
Once the money from the British National Lottery has enabled the completion of the work, SS Shieldhall will be the focus of a wide range of community activities. Not only will the ship be used for passenger trips but she will also provide opportunities for apprentices and other young people to learn about maintaining and running shipping.
Southampton’s Nuffield Theatre is even ready to work on arts projects connected to the vessel.
Although built to a classic 1930’s design, Shieldhall was first launched on the Clyde in 1955. Her first role was as a sewage vessel, carrying treated sludge out to sea, and running pleasure cruises during the summer months. After ownership by Glasgow Corporation, Southern Water bought the ship before she was retired in 1985. The preservation charity then purchased her in 1988. She is a prime example of ship engineering common during the end of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century.
The British National Lottery money will enable many more people to learn about their maritime and engineering heritage. Perhaps SS Shieldhall will also fire the enthusiasm of a new generation for a career on the water.
Find out more about SS Shieldhall on the dedicated website.