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Last Updated: Sunday, 12 June, 2005, 09:23 GMT 10:23 UK
Medieval ship welcomes visitors
Newport's medieval ship
Restoration of the ship is a costly business
History enthusiasts have the chance on Sunday to view progress on restoring a medieval ship found on the banks of the River Usk.

Newport City Council is planning to hold three open days for the public to see the restoration project.

The first is on Sunday, with two further opportunities in July and September.

The repair job on the 15th Century vessel is expected to take more than 10 years to complete.

When ready, the ship will go on display in a purpose-built gallery in the city's Riverfront Theatre and Arts Centre.

The remains were uncovered by builders in 2002, during excavation work for the 16m centre.

Archaeologists believe the find could be more significant than the discovery of the Tudor ship, the Mary Rose.

The water tanks containing the ship's timbers
The timbers of the vessel are being stored at a warehouse in Newport

The team of experts working on the project have been using state-of-the-art digital technology to record the 1,700 timbers which make up the vessel.

The Newport Ship was the first archaeological project in the UK to use this type of technology and the Mary Rose Trust has now followed suit.

Visitors will be able to see the recording in action and talk to the people doing the work. The Friends of the Ship will be tour guides talking about their experiences during the campaign to save the ship, and what the project has learned since.

The Newport Ship already has an international profile. Last year the project leader gave a paper at an international conference in Copenhagen where members of the team also trained at the Viking Ship museum.

Ship team staff will shortly be teaching on an EU funded project at Berlin University on the subject of caring for waterlogged wooden artifacts.

Councillor Bob Bright, leader of Newport city council, said: "We welcome the opportunity to let people see first hand the excellent restoration work that is being undertaken and to appreciate the scale of the project being carried out by Newport city council.

Funds needed

"However, it remains the council's view that the ship is a find of national and international significance and that the long term funding of the restoration project should be on a national or international scale."

A 3.5 million grant from the Welsh Assembly Government, which was given to the council shortly after the ship's discovery during the construction of the Riverfront in 2002, is running out.

Newport council is currently seeking external funding to finance the long-term project.

It has submitted an application to the Heritage Lottery Fund to cover the next stage of work, with an expected decision in December 2005.

Members of the team are also looking for other sources of sponsorship and funding.

Earlier this year, it emerged that long-term funding was needed for the project, with the council saying it might have problems in finding the 300,000 needed each year.

The council said the project for this year was being funded from what remains of a 2.9m Welsh Assembly Government grant.

A council spokesman said that the grant had already funded a "significant part" of the work which has included archaeology, building the Riverfront gallery and removing and storing timbers.

"However there are on-going costs for recording and restoration work which will be at least 300,000 a year for several years to come," he added.

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