A CALL has gone out for volunteers to get on board and help the work being done to preserve the Newport ship - which has the potential to become an international tourist attraction.

With the visitor centre at Queensway Meadows, Newport, closed due to Covid-19, the Friends of Newport Ship have been using the time to completely refurbish the displays and exhibits for when they are able to re-open, hopefully sometime in the new year.

The ship - the best preserved large 15th century vessel to be found - was discovered in the mud of the River Usk during the construction of the Riverfront Theatre in 2002.

It is currently undergoing conservation and study at the Queensway Meadows site.

Bob Evans, the chairman of the Friends of Newport Ship, is hoping people with an interest in history or archaeology will come forward to help with the project of conserving and promoting this unique artefact.

Mr Evans said: "We will open again in 2021 with a new tour featuring more of the ship timbers than ever before, some stunning displays, videos and animated films. There will also be new exhibits featuring some of the other heritage vessels found in the Newport area.

"We have a new area for tool and craft demonstrations and another for our conservation activities."

The Friends of Newport Ship are looking for volunteers to help run the centre and shop, act as guides, give talks to interested bodies, help publicise the work being carried out on the ship, create displays and demonstrations, conserve and document the ship and its artefacts, research the origins of the ship and managed the website and social media.


Back in 2002 when the Riverfront Theatre was being built, the remains of what may have been part of a quay were unearthed. Near the top of the pit, archaeologists discovered what looked like a timber drain and a cobbled floor underneath some large timbers.

Upon further digging, it was revealed that these were part of a large ship lying in an inlet. The timbers were removed, and underneath were found parts of a large vessel.

Initially, there was no intention to preserve the ship, but it sparked a campaign which saw thousands of people demanding that the remains of the vessel be saved.

Efforts paid off and later in 2002, the Welsh Government committed £3.5 million to the excavation, conservation and display of the ship, on the condition that Newport City Council would provide any additional funds to complete the project.

The ship has been described as “one of the most important archaeological finds in Wales in the last 120 years”.

Each component of the excavated ship was recorded using a cutting edge contact digitiser to create a 3D model. This was used to create a 1:10 plastic scale replica of the surviving part of the ship, ready to serve as a blueprint for the ship’s reconstruction.

Once treated, the timbers were put in a giant freeze dryer to get rid of the water.

Construction of the vessel has been pinpointed to the Basque country of Northern Spain and there is extensive evidence of trade with Portugal.

The plan is to reassemble the original ship timbers to create an impressive attraction, which has the potential to bring more than 100,000 visitors to Newport annually - helping the economic regeneration of Newport.

Newport’s medieval ship has now been worked on for approaching 18 years, and it is estimated that it will be another two years until the process is complete.

Afterwards, the ship will be put on display, but a location has not been chosen as a huge space is required to display it - around 15 metres by 30 metres for the vessel alone.

For more information on the ship, go to newportship.org