The Heritage Lottery Fund will contribute £2.6m to repairs of the last ship remaining from what used to be a high-tech marine fleet of Queen Victoria.
HMS Warrior, launched in 1860, was the world’s first iron-hulled battleship, the largest, fastest and most powerful vessel of its day, and a pride of Queen Victoria’s Black Battlefleet.
However, the state of the ship anchored at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, where it serves as a floating museum, has slowly deteriorated over the past years, requiring engineering intervention.
The £2.6m Heritage Lottery Fund investment covers more than two thirds of the cost of the needed repairs that will include preservation of the bulwarks and water bar between the deck and the iron hull, improving the ship’s water-tightness.
One million pounds is now being sought through a fundraising project, which will enable further improvements to the exhibition areas inside the ship.
"When she was built, HMS Warrior was at the forefront of marine technology, a symbol of the UK's immense naval prowess,” said Carole Souter, chief executive of the Heritage Lottery Fund. “This Lottery grant will ensure she is safeguarded for future generations to explore and will give today's visitors the opportunity to better understand her role in our rich naval heritage."
Overall 45 iron-hulled battle ships were built for the Royal Navy between 1861 and 1877. HMS Warrior, in service until 1924, has survived by sheer chance after the ships were decommissioned following the First World War.
The Royal Navy’s efforts to sell her off for scrap were unsuccessful and she ended up being converted into an oil pontoon. The ship was stripped off all her equipment and masts and towed to the Pembroke Dock in Wales. She was rescued after 50 years and renovated in the early 1980s to serve as a floating museum.
Rear Admiral Neil Latham CBE, chairman of the Warrior Preservation Trust, said: "Once complete, Warrior will provide a dynamic visitor experience, excellent community engagement and research opportunities whilst securing the future of this remarkable ship for future generations."
About 260,000 people visit the ship each year.