The Martyn Heighton Award for Excellence in Maritime Conservation was launched in 2019, in honour of our late Director.  Martyn was a passionate champion for the maritime heritage community, supporting historic vessel projects of all sizes.  This award is made to the individual, organisation or group that best demonstrates the principles set down in our publication Conserving Historic Vessels, which has become the bible for historic vessel conservation across the sector.


The Excellence in Maritime Conservation Award 2022 

Winner: The Unicorn Preservation Society for their conservation of the 1824-built ex-Navy frigate HMS Unicorn (pictured below) 

The 2022 Award went to the Unicorn Preservation Society in Dundee, for their impressive work to understand HMS Unicorn through structural analysis, laser and photogrammetry surveys.   A complete model of the ship has been created, allowing for an astonishing insight into the structure and construction of the ship, in a way which would not be possible without these modern methods.

HMS Unicorn

The Excellence in Maritime Conservation Award 2021

The National Museum of the Royal Navy, for their conservation of the WWII landing craft tank LCT 7074 (pictured below)

The 2021 Award went to the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth, for their conservation of LCT 7074.  Guided by Conserving Historic Vessels, the significance of the ship was at the centre of their decision to preserve the vessel’s fabric as it was in June 1944.  Using a formal Conservation Management Plan, LCT 7074 has been raised, transported to Portsmouth, conserved, interpreted and opened to the public in a new, purpose-built graving dock and canopy structure in Southsea, Hampshire.

LCT 7074

The Excellence in Maritime Conservation Award 2020

Winner: The Scottish Fisheries Museum, for their conservation of the 1901 Fifie Reaper (pictured below)

The 2020 Award went to The Scottish Fisheries Museum in Anstruther for the Reaper restoration project, which took a three-phase approach to conserving this unique survivor.  Based on a detailed conservation management plan, Reaper was returned to operational use keeping the skills of sailing and maintaining her alive.  The judging team was particularly impressed by the thoroughness of the Museum’s approach and the focus on significance which saw the door left open for a potential switch to full fabric preservation at some point in the future.







The Excellence in Maritime Conservation Award 2019

Winner: Lakeland Arts, Windermere Jetty Museum, for their conservation work on Ferry Mary-Anne (pictured below)

The inaugural Martyn Heighton Award was unanimously given to an organisation which has raised the bar in terms of conservation both through the practical implementation of our principles across its whole collection and the way in which the conservation approach has been conveyed to members of the public.   
The application for this award featured only one of some 40 vessels in the museum's collection – the ferry Mary-Anne, collapsing under her own weight in extremely poor condition, which has now been stabilised and, thanks to new recording techniques, preserved in a purpose-built cradle which is pulling her back into her original shape.  Without the careful conservation approach that has been applied, this vessel would certainly not be here today.  We were particularly pleased to announce the Lakeland Arts Trust and the new Windermere Jetty Museum, a project Martyn was heavily involved with first as a monitor and then a trustee, as the first recipient of this Award.

Ferry Mary Anne

Special Commendation: The Excelsior Trust, for their replica ship's boat for Excelsior

Judges were not originally intending to award a Highly Commended prize, but were particularly struck by an application which had applied the principles of Conserving Historic Vessels at a high level to inform the build of a replica craft, carrying out careful off-ship research to underpin the design, and keeping traditional skills alive in its construction and ongoing use and repair.  The Judges’ Special Commendation was awarded to the Excelsior Trust in Lowestoft for their newly completed replica ship’s boat for the 1921 Lowestoft fishing smack Excelsior.