Pilgrim Trust Award - press release

The following is an extract from a press release from the British Library. The Museum acknowledges with great gratitude the help and support provided by The Heritage Lottery Fund, BAE SYSTEMS, Hampshire County Council and the University of Portsmouth in the achievement of this prestigious award. We also pay tribute to the late Tony Headey of The Brunel Design Group, Fareham, who established the principle of Holland 1's conservation tank and who designed her exhibition gallery.

12 November 2002

Super-Sub scores a winner

1901 submarine wins top conservation award and highlights UK's conservation excellence

A project to restore the Royal Navy's first submarine, Holland 1 - which first set sail in 1901 and lay on the seabed for 69 years - has won the UK's premier conservation prize. In a ceremony at the British Library tonight, conservator Ian Clark and the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport were awarded the Pilgrim Trust Award for Conservation 2002 for their work in 'placing conservation at the very heart of the museum'.

The RN Submarine Museum rose to the top of a very strong shortlist that included entries from the National Trust, the Wallace Collection and the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. The award judges considered how the entrants used their scientific, technological, aesthetic and historical knowledge to conserve materials and reveal their significance to a wide audience.

Holland 1's conservation story began following her salvage in 1982. At that point the submarine was cleaned, treated with an anti-corrosion chemicals and put on display at the Museum. But by 1993 she was suffering from rampant corrosion and repainting proved futile. The anti-corrosion treatment had failed and a new solution was needed.

Led by conservator Ian Clark, the Museum built a giant glassfibre tank in 1994 to enclose the submarine, and filled it with 800,000 litres of sodium carbonate. Soaking the submarine in this way would remove the chloride ions that were the cause of the uncontrollable corrosion. In December 1998, the soaking tank was drained down and final tests carried out. Chloride levels were now found to be extremely low - the treatment had worked.

A specially humidity-controlled gallery was also built to display the submarine. When visitors enter the new gallery they breathe moisture into the dry atmosphere, which if it were allowed to build up could stimulate more corrosion. The gallery has been equipped with a powerful dehumidification system that keeps the humidity below 40% relative humidity - this low level of humidity prevents moisture from setting off the corrosion cycle.

Loyd Grossman, chair of the judging panel, broadcaster and member of the board of Resource, said; Among an outstanding 2002 shortlist this amazing submarine project stands out. It has everything: a fascinating story, pivotal to British naval prowess; a bold conservation procedure, based on sound scientific principles and carried out on an unprecedented scale; and a stunning display which brings the visitor a memorable experience. Everybody should go and see it! We warmly congratulate conservator Ian Clark and the Royal Navy Submarine Museum on their tremendous achievement.

The Pilgrims Trust Conservation Awards are the UK's premier scheme to reward excellence in preserving our heritage - open to conservators for completed projects on individual artefacts, museum collections, historic buildings and library and archival treasures.

Among the 11 short-listed candidates was the Wallace Collection's entry focusing on the conservation of an 18th-century writing-desk - one of the jewels of its collections - restored using novel techniques to re-apply its marquetry and clean its surface. The restoration of historic wallpaper and paintwork at Nostell Priory in West Yorkshire and the installation of environmental monitoring systems using computer technology and 5 miles of cabling - formed key parts of the National Trust's short listed entry.

Sponsored by the Pilgrim Trust, the Awards are also supported by key organisations in conservation and restoration - English Heritage, the National Preservation Office (based at the British Library), Resource: The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries and the United Kingdom Institute for Conservation.

The judging panel for the Award for Conservation and the Student Conservator of the Year Award comprises:

Loyd Grossman (Chairman of the Judging Panel) - Well-known writer and broadcaster, a member of the board of Resource: The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries, Chairman of the Campaign for Museums and an English Heritage Commissioner.

Martin Bailey - Correspondent of The Art Newspaper, contributor to RA Magazine and author of several books on art and artists.

Liz Forgan OBE
- Chair of the National Heritage Memorial Fund and Heritage Lottery Fund, and a former Managing Director of BBC Radio.

David Landau - Art historian, editor of Print Quarterly and a Trustee of the National Gallery, the Courtauld Institute of Art and The Art Fund.

Anna Southall - Chief Executive of Resource: The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries.

The Pilgrim Trust was founded in 1930 by Edward Stephen Harkness of New York to award grants for some of Great Britain's more urgent needs and to promote the country's future well-being. In 2000, the Trustees made 137 grant commitments totalling £2.9 million, to projects involved in social welfare, art and learning, preservation, cataloguing and conservation of records and the repair of historic churches. Further information on the Trust is available at www.thepilgrimtrust.org.uk

English Heritage is the Government's lead body for the historic environment. Funded partly by the Government and in part from revenue earned from its historic properties and other services, English Heritage aims to increase the understanding of the past, conserve and enhance the historic environment and broaden access and appreciation of heritage. For further information see the website at www.englishheritage.org.

The National Preservation Office provides an independent focus for ensuring the preservation of and continued accessibility to library and archive materials held in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Based at the British Library, the NPO is supported by the Library, The Public Record Office, The National Library of Scotland, Trinity College Dublin, Cambridge University Library, The National Library of Wales, the Oxford University Library Services - the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), and the National Library of Ireland, together with additional funding from SCONUL (The Society of College National and University Libraries) and the CONUL (The Consortium of National and University Libraries (Ireland). Further information on the NPO is available at www.bl.uk/npo/

Resource: The Council for Museums, Archives and Libraries is a government agency sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Resource provides the strategic leadership, advocacy and advice to enable museums, archives and libraries to touch people's lives and inspire their imagination, learning and creativity. For further information see www.resource.gov.uk

The United Kingdom Institute for Conservation (UKIC) is the professional body for those who care for the country's cultural objects and heritage collections. Its members are conservators working in public institutions such as museums and galleries, and conservators and restorers working in the private sector. The Institute exists to foster excellence in the provision of conservation services, to raise awareness of the importance of conservation skills, and to provide information and advice to those requiring conservation services. It operates the Conservation Register, a national database of conservation services. Full details can be found at www.ukic.org.uk