Message from Hannah Cunliffe, Director, National Historic Ships UK

Update - 13th May 2020

Following the government announcement on 10th May, the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) has issued an update to the effect that all forms of boating can recommence in England from 13th May as part of permitted outdoor activity.  This does not apply to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as yet.  See:

The new Government regulations mean that many vessel owners are able to check their boats again, carry out essential maintenance and, in some cases, operate them.  However, social distancing measures must be applied at all times with these activities carried out solo or by members of the same household.  Before visiting your vessel, you should check with the relevant harbour authority for the latest guidance and regulations in your area.  Whilst welcoming this development, NHS-UK joins with the RYA in calling on all recreational boaters to act responsibly and to use their common sense in complying with the Government’s guidance to help fight the spread of the virus. 

In terms of museum ships and excursion craft, the guidance remains that non-essential businesses stay closed and open in a phased manner when it is safe to do so.  Although historic vessels receiving members of the public or requiring multiple staff / crew to function are not yet in a position to re-open,  the government guides on working safely and managing social distancing in environments where it is not always possible to maintain the 2 metre distance may be helpful for forward planning.  The most relevant are those relating to vehicles and construction/outdoor activity: 

Suggestions which may be feasible for historic vessels include:

  • further increasing the frequency of hand washing and surface cleaning
  • keeping the activity time involved as short as possible
  • using screens or barriers to separate people from each other (this may be practicable on some of the larger craft)
  • using back-to-back or side-to-side working (rather than face-to-face) whenever possible
  • reducing the number of people each person has contact with by using ‘fixed teams or partnering’ (so each person works with only a few others)

Vessels will need to demonstrate this kind of approach in their risk assessment before returning to operation. 

Whilst closures remain in place, many of our heritage assets are offering significant value in terms of well-being, with online activities or coverage in place of programmes previously planned.  At NHS-UK, we are fully committed to providing support in any way we can to all our stakeholders during this difficult time.  Our team is working from home and we are continuing to maintain as many services as possible, including processing new registrations, offering advice and guidance to custodians, and collating information on the Covid-19 impact for the DCMS Select Committee inquiry.  We are happy to schedule meetings by phone or video conferencing with any vessel custodians who require additional advice. 

Please email: for support or to let us know how Covid-19 has affected your organisation.

For further guidance on the latest regulations, see:

Useful online resources 

We are currently collating a range of resources to support our sector following the outbreak of Covid-19 or coronavirus.  This list will be regularly updated - please email if you would like a resource to be included. 

General advice

AiM (Association of Independent Museums) COVID-19 advice and resources:

AMA (Arts Marketing Association) - COVID -19 advice and resources:

Government guidance on what you can and can't do (11th May onward):

Government guidance on working safely during coronavirus (11th May onward): 

Heritage Alliance Guidance Hub: 

Museums Association - Covid-19 resources for organisations and individuals

Museums Association - Re-opening the museum sector - what support is needed to facilitate opening?

NEMO (Network of European Museum Organisations): Report on the impact of Covid-19 on museums in Europe:

NCVO (National Council for Voluntary Organisations) - Information to help you decide what steps you and your charity or voluntary organisation need to take in light of the spread of the covid-19 virus:

Advice for Vessel Owners

Canal & River Trust - Coronavirus and boating FAQs (updated 19th May):

Canal & River Trust - Weekly updates for boaters with latest information:

National Historic Ships UK - Join our new Facebook Groups for historic vessel owners and Shipshape Network projects to share advice and discuss issues affecting the sector:

Royal Yachting Association - Advice and information for recreational boaters (updated 13th May):

Royal Yachting Association - Return to boating - advice for training centres and instructors:

Funding & Financial Issues

Arts Council England COVID-19 support grant:

Government guidance for charities on managing Covid-19 related financial difficulties in your charity: 

Government guidance for voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations on funding and fundraising:

Heritage Lottery Fund - £50 million available for a Heritage Emergency Fund to support the UK heritage sector as an immediate response to the COVID-19 crisis: 

National Historic Ships UK - Small Grant Scheme (now extended until 30th June): 

NCVO (National Council for Voluntary Organisations) - Contingency planning and financial implications for charities and voluntary organisations: 

Sport England - Funding for local sports clubs and charitable organisations, e.g. sailing clubs and trusts: 


AiM (Association of Independent Museums) - COVID-19 - Conservation and care of collections:

ICOM (International Council of Museums) - Conservation of museum collections under lockdown

ICON (Institute of Conservation) - Coronavirus guidance for conservators:

ICON (Institute of Conservation) - Caring for the Mary Rose: a coronavirus case study 

Museums + Heritage Advisor - SS Great Britain: How does museum conservation work continue from home?

National Historic Ships UK - Historic Vessel Conservation distance learning course *now 15% off*

SS Great Britain - Conservation from the kitchen table

Social and Digital Media, Learning Resources and Home Working

AMA (Arts Marketing Association) - Free digital skills training programme for small or medium heritage organisations, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund:

AMA (Arts Marketing Association) - Free webinars on a range of digital media topics:

Heritage Lottery Fund - How to enjoy heritage at home:

Museums Association - How to take advantage of digital platforms:

Museums Association - free learning resources:

National Archives - free online resources and live chat enquiries:

National Historic Ships UK - Join our new Facebook Groups for historic vessel owners and Shipshape Network projects to share advice and discuss issues affecting the sector:

National Historic Ships UK - Historic Vessel Conservation distance learning course *now 15% off*

The Skills Toolkit - free digital and numeracy courses to help build your skills 

Zoom and Skype conferencing - a 'how to' guide:

Activities & Resources for children

Chatham Historic Dockyard - Museum from home: 

Hull Maritime Museum - Learning resources for primary schools:

Kids in Museums - Round-up of museum activities to enjoy at home:

Mary Rose - Things to make & do:

RNLI - Kids' activity sheets:

ss Explorer - New online educational resources for primary age children:

ss Great Britain - Design & Make:

Titanic Belfast - New online resources for kids including science experiments, activity sheets & fun makes:

Trinity House - Buoys, Beacons and Bananas Key stage 1-3 education resources: