NATIONAL treasure HMS Unicorn will reopen to the public on Tuesday 21 February following an extensive period of closure, which has enabled the popular Dundee docked museum and visitor attraction to undergo urgent roof repairs, costing in excess of £100,000.
The urgent repair work, which required a temporary steel roof to be installed on Scotland’s oldest ship to ensure it is kept wind and watertight for five years until it can be treated properly, has been funded by the Unicorn Preservation Society’s own cash reserves of more than £50,000, with the completion made possible through the generous in-kind donation of time and expertise from commercial roofing company, Scot Steel, totalling £50,000.
The Unicorn Preservation Society, the charitable trust behind Scotland’s oldest ship, is marking the re-opening by offering half-price entry on all tickets for one month until 21 March, and free self-guided visits for school groups over the next six months. HMS Unicorn offers an engaging experience for pupils, and with a schools programme designed to support Curriculum for Excellence, the ship provides the opportunity for pupils to explore their heritage by immersing themselves in 200 years of history and discovering what life was like on board.
The ship recently received a generous donation of £100,000 from The Headley Trust, one of the Sainsbury Family of Charitable Trusts, to help fund the much-needed restoration of the ship. The donation amounts to 10% of the total £1 million financial investment needed for immediate conservation repairs to HMS Unicorn and will go specifically towards the replacement of missing or rotten timbers and engineering works to strengthen the ship’s weakest points. The work will be completed in advance of the ship being moved to dry dock, East Graving Dock in Dundee, for major conservation works, as part of Project Safe Haven. Project Safe Haven will see HMS Unicorn forming the centrepiece of the new Dundee Maritime Heritage Centre.
Museum Director, Matthew Bellhouse Moran, said:
“We’re looking forward to welcoming visitors back to the ship once more this month, and we thank our many supporters for their patience. It’s been a long period of closure – but one that was necessary for the urgent roof repairs to be completed. We are extremely grateful to Scott Steel for donating so much of their time and expertise in-kind for this crucial work to be completed.
“Given the current cost of living crisis, and to mark our re-opening we wanted to offer all visitors half-price tickets so that as many people as possible are able to enjoy this historic ship, and also hear about our exciting plans for the future!”
First launched in 1824, HMS Unicorn is the third oldest ship in the world and has been under the care of the Unicorn Preservation Society since 1968. Scotland’s only preserved warship, the Unicorn Preservation Society is working to protect and preserve HMS Unicorn for future generations to enjoy.
HMS Unicorn has just launched Shipmates, a new friends membership scheme, which offers individual, joint and family membership, with new additional benefits, such as allowing members to bring a friend to the ship for free. New members will be directly contributing to fundraising efforts and will receive an HMS Unicorn keyring, designed exclusively for the Shipmates launch by local Dundee artist and illustrator, Whimsical Lush.
To support the preservation of HMS Unicorn, and to find out more about Shipmates, please visit: https://www.hmsunicorn.org.uk/hms-unicorn/supporting-us.