EUROPEAN CHARTER FOR THE CONSERVATION AND RESTORATION OF TRADITIONAL SHIPS IN OPERATION
It is a matter of fact that the majority of historic buildings, ships and other items, which have survived intact, have done so largely because they have been put to good use, even in recent years and even when that use is very different from the original. The inescapable fact is that continued use ensures that these treasures receive the funding and upkeep they require and deserve.
This was recognised more than 80 years ago by architects in respect of buildings. At the same time, they realised that it was important that any new usage did not destroy the very thing its curators were trying to save, whether by misuse or modification. To this end, an international group of architects and museum technicians drew up a code of best practice and published it in 1931 as the ATHENS CHARTER. This was subsequently reviewed and improved in 1964 when it was re-issued as the VENICE CHARTER.
Both Charters provided guidelines for those in charge of historic buildings how best to ensure their preservation for the future. The adoption of these guidelines has helped them to gain public support, not only in funding but also in tax concessions and other preferential treatment. Furthermore, the Charters’ principles have influenced most of today’s European laws on the protection of monuments.
For some time, the owners of traditional vessels and historians working in the field of maritime history have sought public recognition that adherence to traditional designs and methods of operation are undertaken, not for personal convenience, but in the public interest, i.e. the preservation of our maritime heritage. Hopefully such recognition should be reflected in exemption from draconian or superfluous safety measures as well as in public grant-funding or concessions from harbour, navigation or tax authorities