Boats old and new feature in UK Maritime Heritage Forum and Boat Show

by Alastair Hamilton -

The focus was perhaps less on the future, and more on the future of the past, at the UK Maritime Heritage Forum that was recently held in Shetland.

Thirty delegates from all over the UK attended to discuss the conservation of traditional craft, the role that museums can play in their conservation and the passing on of maritime skills. One highlight was a session led by Christopher Dobbs, who chronicled his career from diving on the Kennemerland (pdf), off Shetland's Out Skerries, to his current position as Head of Interpretation at the Mary Rose Trust, which has just opened its new museum in Portsmouth.

Delegates admired the Shetland Museum and Archives. Kevin Fewster, Director of the National Maritime Museum commented; "We are all hugely impressed by what you have created. Not only are the exhibits and programmes truly first-rate, there is a unity to everything one sees - the architecture, fit-out, exhibition approach, even the shop and restaurant - which is inspirational. One very rarely sees this in any museum, regardless of size. We all leave Shetland hugely impressed by what you're doing."

Shetland has many traditional craft and several were on show as part of the hugely popular Shetland boat show, held in mid-May and attended by more than 2,000 enthusiasts. It also featured a great selection of modern sailing dinghies, because sailing is another Shetland passion. There were also several examples of the boats being built in Shetland today, including thoroughly modern craft used in aquaculture.

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