An expert in restoration projects has offered to act as a go-between to resolve clashes between the trust responsible for restoring SS Nomadic and the volunteers who raised funds to return her to Belfast.
Matters came to a head this week when the Nomadic Charitable Trust contacted the police over two ornate doors removed from the historic vessel by the Nomadic Preservation Society, a group of volunteers which has raised |thousands of pounds to recover artefacts.
The groups has also clashed over the ownership of a lifeboat which once belonged to the Nomadic and is being restored by a Northern Ireland shipwright after it was placed on the Historic Ships Register.
Restoration expert Fred Aldsworth, who helped draw up the conservation management plan for Nomadic’s future, resigned this week, saying the |Heritage Lottery Fund required the plan to take a fresh look at how Nomadic could be restored, but the trust had already decided to restore her as a static attraction.
“It is pretty obvious to me what the long-term objective should be full restoration to operational condition, putting it back as it was when it was in use,” he said.
“Cost is important, particularly when public money is involved, but if public money is used it’s more important to get it right.”
Mr Aldsworth said he thought the trust had ignored the views of some stakeholders who have a genuine interest in the vessel. He offered to act as a go-between to reconcile the NCT and NPS.
NPS chairman David Scott-Beddard said he showed the PSNI photographs to prove he recovered the doors in France.
He removed the doors from the vessel because they need restoring and has now asked for a written apology from the trust.
The trust said it had contacted the police as it believed the doors were removed without permission or notification.
The PSNI said no crime has been disclosed or official complaint received.
“At no time in the three-year |period since the trust took |responsibility for the SS Nomadic was it pointed out that the doors in question were not included as a part of the purchase of the ship,” a spokeswoman said.
“The doors could not be accounted for and the trust provided information to the PSNI in the genuine belief that items had been misappropriated.”
The trust said it intended to restore Nomadic to her original condition as far as possible and maintain her as a permanent tourist, educational and heritage focus within Belfast.
“At present, the trust is preparing a round 1 application to the Heritage Lottery Fund,” a spokesperson said.
“To support this application a number of restoration options are being considered including the short-term requirements for the preservation of the vessel and her conversion into a sustainable artefact.”