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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 October 2007, 15:08 GMT 16:08 UK
Mary Rose 'at risk of being lost'
By Dominic Blake
BBC News, Portsmouth

Medieval ship the Mary Rose
The ship is kept in "cocoon" and sprayed with conserving chemicals
The Mary Rose is a national treasure which could soon be lost.

That is the stark warning from the team that helped to raise the Tudor warship from the Solent 25 years ago.

The Mary Rose Trust needs 35m to complete conservation work and to house the vessel in a new, permanent museum - but it can only raise 14m by itself.

Admiral John Lippiett, chief executive of the trust, said the ship's fate is now once again in the hands of the Heritage Lottery Fund, which is considering an application for the remaining 21m.

Last year, a bid for 13.5m from the Heritage Lottery Fund failed.

He said: "If we aren't successful, the outlook would be very gloomy indeed.

If there is no funding, then at the end of the day there will be no Mary Rose. It is as stark as that.
Admiral John Lippiett, chief executive of the Mary Rose Trust
"We have a small museum which is a temporary exhibition, and the ship is in a temporary structure which was built in the early 80s with a 10-year life.

"The conservation is costing us many hundreds of thousands a year.

"If there is no funding, then there will be no Mary Rose. It is as stark as that.

"Eventually the Mary Rose will cease to be a visitor attraction, it would have to be disposed of...sold for firewood, who knows?"

Diver and maritime archaeologist Christopher Dobbs helped to raise the ship and he has devoted most of his working life to the Mary Rose.

Artist's impression of the new museum and virtual hull
A virtual hull would be created in the new museum

He said: "If we had to stop showing the ship to the public, it would negate everything we did 25 years ago.

"I just think it would be an enormous shame if we couldn't complete what we set out to do in the 1970s, which is to display the Mary Rose for all time, in Portsmouth, and that's why we need the support of the public, of donors and also the Heritage Lottery Fund."

Baked dry

A successful bid would secure the ship's future and transform visitors' experiences.

After years of spraying to replace seawater with conserving chemicals, the ship would finally be released from her misty cocoon.

Then she would be reunited with exhibits in the nearby Mary Rose Museum and another 14,000 stunning artefacts, which are currently locked away.

Mary Rose
Mary Rose painting
The Mary Rose was Henry VIII's flagship
She has 91 guns, and the addition of lids over the portholes meant that many of them could be placed close to the waterline. This made her more effective in battle, but it's thought to have contributed to her sinking on July 19, 1545
She sank after 34 years of distinguished service, fighting in two wars against the French and one against the Spanish
Millions of people watched the salvage operation on television
She is now on display at Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard where she has been seen by more than seven million visitors
The 25th anniversary of her raising is being marked with a series of events and lectures

Cannons and cannonballs, pewterware, wooden plates and jugs and Tudor gold coins are among some of the items brought up since the ship was raised after 437 years under the sea.

Only half the hull was found to be intact when she raised from the Solent in October 1982.

In 2005, the bowcastle - the raised front section of the ship - and the anchor were brought up after being missed during original excavation.

Mr Lippiett said: "The spraying comes to an end in 2011, then we want to bake her dry and build a new museum over the top of where she sits now in the dry dock.

"We want to build the other half of the hull as a virtual hull and then put the artefacts back in so visitors will really see this time capsule as it was on the day she sank.

"It is an extraordinary collection - the finest anywhere in the world - and this is the only 16th Century ship that exists like this.

"It would be a wonderful visitor attraction for Portsmouth and the south of England. We want to have the conservation completed and the new museum open by 2016."

The Heritage Lottery Fund said it could not comment on the outcome of live applications, but chairwoman Dame Liz Forgan told BBC News: "The Mary Rose is one of the most important pieces of our nation's heritage.

"The trust rightly considers such a treasure deserves a truly world-class museum to tell the story effectively.

"We have been a huge supporter of the Mary Rose in the past awarding nine grants of over 7.5m and we hope to work with the Mary Rose Trust to realise its ambitions in the future."

The Mary Rose
The main section of the Mary Rose was raised in 1982

The application will be decided on 22 January.

Mr Lippiett said he and his team had done everything possible to secure a positive outcome.

"We've been working with world-class museum designers and architects. Our business plan shows that we can be sustainable.

"Once we have combined our two visitor attractions - the ship and the museum - into one, we can hold our own and we won't be begging for any more money.

"The Mary Rose is a national icon. She is absolutely unique in the world. We have got to keep her."



SEE ALSO
Prince praises Mary Rose workers
10 Oct 07 |  Hampshire
Mary Rose museum plans unveiled
28 Mar 06 |  Hampshire
Mary Rose weighs anchor at last
11 Oct 05 |  Hampshire
Mary Rose fragments to be raised
21 Sep 05 |  Hampshire
Mary Rose to get permanent home
10 Mar 05 |  Hampshire
Divers tackle Mary Rose jigsaw
11 Aug 04 |  Hampshire

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