Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Work has begun on the most ambitious heritage construction project seen in Europe this decade with the appointment of Warings, a member of the international construction and services group Bouygues.

ON the 28th anniversary of the raising of the Mary Rose, work to secure the future of King Henry VIII’s favourite ship started as part of a £16.3 million contract to build the new Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. The Portsmouth-based construction company will be delivering the construction phase of the £35 million project having recently completed the multi-million enabling works at the site. The work is being undertaken for the Mary Rose Trust, the charity responsible for the conservation of the Tudor flagship which sank in action in 1545.

Construction of the museum began 28 years to the day after the raising of the Mary Rose from her muddy tomb on the bed of the Solent, in front of a worldwide television audience of 60 million. The build is a major step in the final chapter in the conservation of the great ship, a painstaking process which began in 1982. Following a highly complex build project scheduled to take almost two years to complete, the museum is due for completion in autumn 2012 and will reunite the Mary Rose with the majority of the 19,000 artefacts recovered with her.

This next stage of construction will see a new building erected over the top of the hot box – a plastic and fibreglass liner which ensures the hull is kept at an optimum temperature of 19 C – and then, in 2016, the hot box liner will be removed. This will create in effect the world’s largest exhibit.

Dry dock number three, which houses the ship’s hull, dates back to 1800 and is a Grade I listed building in its own right so all of the works have to be undertaken under the careful eye of a full time archaeologist. Rear Admiral John Lippiett, Chief Executive of the Mary Rose Trust, said; “We are delighted to have appointed Portsmouth-based construction company Warings for delivery of the challenging construction phase of this historic project.”

Philippe Jouy, Warings Managing Director, added; “This is a unique project which will pose some unique challenges for our dedicated team. Not least is the immense care required to build a modern museum around the precious timbers of the ship as the final stages of its conservation continues. We are well-equipped with the necessary skills and expertise and are proud to be leading this landmark development to protect and preserve a British historic icon. “The museum will represent the very best in 21st century architecture and construction, providing a beautiful and secure environment for the finest collection of 16th century artefacts in the world.”

The new building housing the Mary Rose’s fully conserved hull and her artefacts will take the form of a finely crafted wooden ‘jewellery box’, clad in timber planks. It will replace the current temporary museum located 300 metres away. When the new museum opens in 2012 the preserving chemical sprays that keep her shrouded in mist will be gone.

The ship will be on display during the final phase of conservation – controlled air drying – until 2016 when her 34 year conservation process will be complete. The existing Mary Rose Museum remains open during construction to offer an amazing visitor experience with more than 1,000 of the finest conserved artefacts recovered from the site.

The Mary Rose
The Mary Rose is the only 16th century warship on display anywhere in the world. Launched in 1511, she was one of the first ships able to fire a broadside, and was a favourite of King Henry VIII. After a long and successful career, she sank during an engagement with a French fleet in 1545. Her rediscovery and raising were seminal events in the history of maritime archaeology.

A dedicated Mary Rose museum in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, remains open while the ship hall housing the preserved wreck is temporarily closed during construction of the new Mary Rose Museum. The amazing artefacts discovered with the great ship, remain on display and new exhibits, including Hatch, the ship’s dog, are being introduced to maintain the highest quality of visitor experience. The new Mary Rose Museum will, for the first time since her sinking, re-unite the ship and her contents, fully preserved and presented in a time capsule of Tudor life at sea.

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