Future of Liverpool's last sailing cargo ship uncertain

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The De Wadden, a three-masted schoonerImage source, NML
Image caption,
The De Wadden is one of only three surviving Irish Sea schooners

"Major investment" would be needed to save a cargo ship which is under threat of being dismantled or sent to another institution, a museums group has said.

The De Wadden, a three-masted schooner, was the last sailing ship to use the port of Liverpool for trading and is currently drydocked in the city.

Its owner National Museums Liverpool (NML) is carrying out a feasibility study on future options for the ship.

Director Laura Pye said NML wanted to "be transparent" about its plans.

The ship was built in the Netherlands in 1917 and was used to carry coal and other goods including grain, pit-props, china clay and mineral ores from the city to Irish ports between 1922 and 1961.

It has been part of the NML collection since 1984 and is currently drydocked in Canning Dock, an area which is being redeveloped.

'Healthy collection management'

NML has started a consultation process to consider options for the De Wadden's future, which include possible deconstruction or a move to either another museum or another dry dock to preserve it.

Ms Pye said the last option would be at "significant financial cost" to NML.

"Conversations like this are never easy," she said.

"People respond to our objects, no matter how big or small, in personal and emotional ways.

"As custodians... it is our responsibility to be transparent about the way we care for them and the decisions we have to consider as part of healthy collection management."

Hannah Cunliffe, the director of National Historic Ships UK, said she hoped a solution could be found to "keep alive the international shipping stories" of one of only three surviving Irish Sea schooners.

She said the government-funded organisation would be happy to offer advice to any individuals or organisations interested in rehoming the vessel.

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