Heritage steamship puts the flags out

Volunteers on heritage steamship, SS Shieldhall, are celebrating having received one of the highest accolades from a national organisation.

The Southampton-based vessel has been chosen as the 2018 regional flagship for the National Historic Fleet.

The award was given not just because of the ship’s unique history but also in recognition of the work put in by the volunteers and the comprehensive sailing programme for visitors.

Director of National Historic Ships, Hannah Cunliffe, said: ‘We are looking for vessels to be our ambassadors and to promote maritime history. ‘The Shieldhall was chosen because of the efforts made by all the volunteers who keep her maintained and running. We recognise it is the 30th anniversary of the ship being taken over by the Solent Steam Packet Charity and we wanted to acknowledge that as well.’

Ms Cunliffe said there are now 1,300 ships on the National Historic Register. ‘In order to be included they should be more than 50 years old, over 33 feet in length and based in the UK,’ she explained.

Within the register is the National Historic Fleet with just 217 ships which are of national or regional importance; illustrate an example of maritime history and are worthy of long-term preservation. Shieldhall is one of these ships along with such prestigious vessels as the Mary Rose – the oldest on the register – and the Cutty Sark.

The Shieldhall was chosen as the NHF national flagship in 2009 but since then the fleet has grown considerably and the awards are now given regionally.

Joint chief engineer Graham McKenzie said: ‘I think it’s a great reflection of the work carried out by the volunteers. All the work these people have put in over many years has yet again been recognised by the national body for historic ships.’