Flagship role for maritime historian
University of St Andrews maritime historian Dr Robert Prescott has taken the helm of the National Historic Ships Committee.
Dr Prescott has been appointed Chairman of the NHSC which was established in 1992 to oversee all aspects of historic ship preservation in the UK. The committee aims to secure the long- term preservation of a sample of ships representing important aspects of British maritime history and technology.
Under the chairmanship of Admiral of the Fleet, the Lord Lewin of Greenwich and his successors, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Julian Oswald and Captain Richard Woodman, the committee rapidly gained the support of the Department of National Heritage and of its descendant, the Department of Culture Media and Sport.
In 1995, Dr Prescott was appointed the NHSC’s Research Director, with responsibility for compiling an inventory of all surviving historic ships in the UK and developing an evaluation system to objectively assess the relative heritage merits of the historic vessels identified. The resulting database, the National Register of Historic Vessels, has become a valuable tool in maritime heritage management, widely consulted by government departments and funding bodies such as the Heritage Lottery Fund.
For some years, the NHSC has been pressing the Government to establish a Historic Ships Unit to carry forward the work started by the committee. Their efforts paid off last year when such a unit was established, staffed and funded within DCMS.
As the new NHSC Chairman, Dr Prescott’s task will be to work closely with DCMS staff as the new unit comes into being and to ensure that the work of the NHSC, since 1992, is carried forward with renewed vigour and better resources.
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