RRS Discovery undergoes urgent repair work thanks to £1.4m funding boost

Dundee Heritage Trust awarded funding to preserve the popular tourist attraction.

Essential repair work has begun on the RRS Discovery in Dundee.

The ship was first launched in the city in 1901 before embarking on its first mission – Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s British National Antarctic Expedition.

But the vessel is now beset with problems – including rotting timbers and severe rain water damage – and is in urgent need of restoration.

Dundee Heritage Trust, who look after Discovery, has been awarded £1.4m from the National Heritage Memorial Fund to preserve the popular tourist attraction.

Emma Halford-Forbes, heritage and exhibitions director at Dundee Heritage Trust, told STV News: “The Discovery is one of the most important ships that is still around in Britain.

“It was the first ship designed for Antarctic exploration and it was built right here in Dundee.

RRS Discovery in Dundee.STV News

“The amount of money that we’re spending at the moment, we’ve got a £1.4m grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund; without which we wouldn’t be able to do this work.

“The costs have increased more than four fold since we originally priced up this project five years ago and, with Covid and the war in Ukraine, those costs have just sky rocketed.”

Specialist conservationists have been drafted in to help with the project, which is expected to take a few years.

The first phase of the project focuses on the ship’s stern. A steel structure will be put up to allow engineers to remove each timber beam before they are either restored or replaced.

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Conservation engineer Jim Mitchell said: “I wouldn’t call it a high risk project but it’s very much digging into the unknown because lots of the structures haven’t been seen since it was built in 1901.

“This ship is largely built out of wood and it’s an organic material that is in a constant state of flux. It absorbs water, it sheds water, so it’s changing all the time.

“The humidity and the Scottish climate is probably harder on this ship than Antarctica was.”

The RRS Discovery will remain open to visitors while the work is carried out.

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