THE painstaking restoration and conservation work on Newport's medieval ship is to go on full view to the public, the Argus can reveal.

A series of open days are being planned to allow the public to see first hand the restoration work being carried out to preserve the 535-year-old ship.

The remains are currently being transferred from the Llanwern Corus site to a huge council-owned industrial unit in Maesglas as part of the £2.5 million restoration programme funded by the National Assembly.

The unit is believed to be the largest conservation site of its kind in Europe and is being hailed as a major development in the restoration programme.

The 1,700 pieces of timber from the ship rescued from the bank of the River Usk will be stored in 16 10x5 metre tanks filled with water and sand.

Charles Barker, of the Mary Rose Archaeological Service Ltd, is being employed by Newport city council to conserve the ship over the next ten years.

Mr Barker said: "It is a wonderful building and ideal for us. It is great for us to get a building this size - and with the tanks, that gives us 800 square metres, which must make it the largest site of its kind in Europe."

Councillor Glyn Jarvis, cabinet member for leisure said: "Corus was a fantastic site and we are very grateful to them, but long term we had to find somewhere permanent.

"The plus side is that we can now have open days where the public can see first hand the work that is going on to conserve the ship."

No firm dates for the open days have been set, but transferring and cataloguing the pieces from the Corus site is not expected to be complete until October or November at the earliest.

The proposals for a series of open days comes in response to the massive public interest for the project, which is still attracting interest from across the globe.

A conservation process will start with the cataloguing of the timber. The individual pieces will be entered on to a CAD computer programme which will create an image of what the ship looked like.

The timber will be strengthened with a synthetic wax and a freeze drying process will take place to remove the water.

The frozen timber will then be placed in a vacuum which will turn the ice straight into vapour. The whole programme is expected to take around ten years.