Much work, unseen by the casual visitor, has been done with a view to getting the ship out and about in the coming year.
Progress on three separate fronts can be reported. Firstly, the temporary repairs. The MCA had stipulated that the ship would not be allowed to go anywhere unless remedial work was done on the 21 frames that had suffered extensive corrosion. That would have made it difficult even to sail to dry dock. However, in early summer and following discussions with the MCA Surveyors a detailed specification for each affected frame
was agreed that described a schedule of temporary repairs. Each of the frames concerned would be strengthened.
With the Shieldhalls own volunteers that work is now moving ahead.
One or more strengthening pieces, varying in size and shape, is being cut and then welded into position at each frame. At the time of writing it is reported that the most difficult frames have already been dealt with. Although days and days of work remain to be completed it looks as if, subject to MCA inspection, this particular aspect is proceeding to plan.
Secondly, it was immediately recognised that major fund raising would be necessary. Several avenues are being investigated including the Heritage Lottery Fund. In the case of HLF the preparation of the required documentation is well advanced and it is planned to lodge the application before the end of November. There is no guarantee that the
application to the Heritage Lottery Fund will be successful. Even if successful it could well be that the allocation is less than hoped. For this reason, work continues on other fund raising efforts that have been initiated.
Thirdly, it has also been recognised that in Shieldhall is a set of unique assets that are somewhat under used. As a policy, therefore, it has been decided to seek more opportunities to use the facilities that Shieldhall has to offer for the purpose of hosting a variety of events and it is planned that in future, events of one kind or another will become rather frequent whilst the ship is alongside.
The development of capabilities to host events is at an early stage. However, already some Youth Training Days, at which parties of youngsters such as Scouts get a grounding compass work, chartwork and the like have successfully taken place. A number of other diverse events are well advanced in planning. For instance there will be cooperation with the Nuffield Theatre during next summer and a seminar entitled Titanic & Her Legacy next spring. Several other events that will be new for the Shieldhall are in the pipeline.
A full sailing programme is in preparation and it will be published the moment that the MCA give the all clear. The target is for Shieldhall to be ready to participate in commemorative activities next April marking 100 years since Titanic sailed from Southampton.
At all events, the year 2012 has the makings of a busy and interesting year for Shieldhall and they hope to welcome visitors aboard very soon.