In 2013, National Historic Ships UK carried out a public consultation on plans to review the National Registers using a new assessment methodology.  You can read more and see the summary of responses.

Following this, funding proposals were submitted to the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Department of Digital, Media, Culture & Sport (DCMS) for grant aid to enable a dedicated project team to undertake the review.  Unfortunately, due to the economic climate, it has not yet been possible to secure the level of financial support needed.

In our Forward Plan 2019-2023, we highlighted the Registers Review as a key priority.  Objectives during this period included:

  • Continuing the search for funding to increase our capacity to undertake the Review
  • Implementing the new mechanism for assessing registered historic craft
  • Reviewing craft on the National Register of Historic Vessels and the National Small Boat Register to identify any changes to the National Historic Fleet
  • Visiting any vessel to whom a change in Fleet status will apply
  • Producing statements of significance for all vessels in the National Historic Fleet
  • Running stakeholder events with information about the Review process.

Until such time as a dedicated project team can be set up, the Review is being undertaken in-house by a working group comprised of NHS-UK staff, volunteers and co-opted vessel specialists. 

Rescue Group

During 2021-2023, our Registers Review working group has been assessing historic lifeboats on the Registers with support from Joanna Bellis of RNLI Heritage.  149 lifeboats have now been scored using this scoring system which includes analysis of their age, technical innovations, historical associations, originality, condition and rarity, as well as their service and medal history.  Whether they are in static preservation or have been conserved for operational use is also taken into account, with different scoring applied to reflect the use to which they have been put.

We are asking all owners of registered historic lifeboats to check their vessel entry on our database and ensure that it is up-to-date and accurate as this information is being used in our assessment.  Please complete the update your details form to supply any additional data or photographs.  We may also get in touch with you to arrange a visit or ask for further data in relation to any aspect of the scoring process. 

What’s next?

After work on the Rescue Group is complete, we will move to assessment of the next set of vessels within the Service category which is ‘Tugs’.  This page will be updated with further details once work on this group commences, as well as any requests for information.

Please note, if you do not own a vessel in the group currently under review, we will not be able to undertake an assessment for the National Historic Fleet until such time as your vessel type comes up for consideration.  This is because we assess vessels within groups of like craft rather than on a case-by-case basis.

If you wish to ensure your vessel record is ready for assessment in due course, we encourage you to work with us to produce a statement of significance to our guidelines.  We appreciate your patience whilst the Review is ongoing.



Susan Ashley