Call for nominations as a 'Heritage Harbour, UK'


Steam Tug Portwey

Nominate your local port or harbour that you consider substantially fits these criteria. The 'Heritage Harbour Designation' is a joint initiative by the Maritime Heritage Trust (MHT) and National Historic Ships (NHS) Shipshape Network; with strong support from the European Maritime Heritage (EMH), proposes that historic Ports and harbours in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland be invited to be designated as ‘Heritage Harbours’. This follows the Netherlands model and similar initiatives in Belgium, France and Germany. Ageing Ports and harbours, with areas of diminishing commercial shipping, have recognised the great value in sensitively developing their, often superb, historic buildings; waste land; mooring; and maintenance facilities for both local and visiting historic vessels.

Heritage Harbour philosophy and attraction

Considerable mutual benefit and local pride can be achieved from the 'Heritage Harbour' status, by pulling together, in a forum group, all the interested parties; local government authority; the statutory port authority; developers; Harbourside commercial interests; historic trusts and the boating community. The status also provides opportunities for trusts and charities, encouraging young people, to engage in confidence building activities. Pressures are brought to bear on local government authorities and developers to seek maximum short term profit by building apartment blocks with one and two bedroom units immediately alongside a river or harbour, without due consideration being given to access to the waterside and the long term benefits of protecting Maritime Heritage. To earn the designation of Heritage Harbour, the city, town or village involved needs to have, or; encouraged to demonstrate, an enthusiasm and  recognition for the long term benefits of its status in terms of tourism, commercial investment and residential desirability. 

A combination of historic Harbourside buildings and local historic ships and boats, which tell a story related to the Harbour and region to provide a uniquely attractive vehicle for improving the desirability of the area and can halt a downward spiral in port/Harbour deterioration; significantly gentrify a previously rundown area, and; give new life through increased tourism and valued balanced development. In Great Britain the Ports and Harbours generally typify the regional differences and therefore encourage localised tourism. The buildings and the ships tell a story of the past growth and prosperity of the port, and; promise an encouraging future.

Harbourside buildings, historic ships and boats

Substantial historic waterside buildings, often of local stone, have so many potential uses. A Heritage Harbour benefits from a balance of; relevant light industry; retail; catering; commercial offices, and; most importantly, maintenance facilities for resident and visiting historic boats and ships. As far as is practical, private businesses, cafés and restaurants alike, should be encouraged to be outgoing and transparent, using; historic local photographs and artefacts to reflect the local heritage. New development needs a symbiotic architectural connection to the historic buildings, common in Holland. It’s important to encourage regional boat and ship types, which reflect the past local trade, fisheries and agriculture. Access to wharf side and moored vessels should be widely available. It is essential that adequate berthing is available for visiting craft, with some safe alongside berths for public visiting.


Maritime Heritage in London

Historic Ship Maintenance

Small shipyards, maintenance slips and barge blocks are steadily disappearing. So any existing facilities, within reasonable reach, need to be rebuilt and incorporated. The Shipshape Network already identifies available traditional tradesmen in a series of regional hubs.

Nominate your port or harbour now!

The first nomination has been submitted by the Tidal Medway.

Send your nomination to Brian Corbett, Maritime Heritage Trust
chairman [at] msba [dot] org [dot] uk (subject: Heritage%20Harbour%20Nomination)