Temperature and Humidity Monitors for Timber Conservation

The Mary Rose Museum, which was officially opened at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, is giving visitors a captivating insight into 16th century maritime engineering. However, the safe passage of the historic warship into the limelight was made possible only by a contemporary kind of engineering.

Advanced monitoring technology has played a crucial role in protecting the vulnerable timbers of the ship, which forms the centerpiece of the new museum. As part of the ongoing preservation work, conservators at the Mary Rose Trust contacted Hanwell Solutions to monitor the wood’s condition and the chamber’s environment in which the wood is being stored throughout the critical final phases of the project.

hanwell Solutions' Monitoring and Control System

Hanwell's team worked with the conservators and developed a custom-made monitoring and control system that provides data to the staff about the humidity and temperature of the chamber’s interior. To avoid deterioration of the timbers, humidity and temperature had to be carefully maintained.

The wood’s condition was continuously mapped by over 60 sensors from the Hanwell range that were still attached to the hull. Three specialist Wood watch units which employ high-frequency Acoustic Emission (AE) technology were also used for mapping the condition of the wood.

We’re extremely proud to be associated with this incredible project to bring the Mary Rose back to life for 21st century visitors. The restoration has been a long and challenging process for everyone involved and, because of the unique nature of the project, we had to design a unique solution. The technology that we introduced gave the conservation team a form of insight and measurement that hadn’t been available to them before, and has proven crucial to the successful completion of their painstaking work.

Dr Martin Hancock, Engineering Director, Hanwell Solutions Ltd

The £35 m Project

Following the recovery of the wreck from the sea bed in 1982, a 17 year program of active conservation was launched in 1994 when the ship was sprayed with polyethylene glycol (PEG), a wax that gradually replaced the water content within the timbers.

While an innovative walkway gives a glimpse of the ship in its chamber, it can only be viewed completely when the chamber is withdrawn in 2016 and when the Mary Rose will become the only 16th century warship on display anywhere in the world.

As part of  the £35 m project, the remaining timbers will be augmented with a reconstruction of the missing half of the vessel and reunited with its original contents, comprising thousands of artifacts that have been recovered and preserved separately from the ship itself.


A Tudor-era time capsule will be formed with the ship and its contents together, providing visitors an insight into 16th century life. The items include musical instruments, naval supplies, weapons and many more of the crew’s possessions.

Rear Admiral John Lippiett, the man at the helm of the Mary Rose Museum project, is the Chief Executive of the Mary Rose Trust. He believes that in terms of its historic significance, the ship represents the British equivalent of Italy’s Pompeii.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided byHawell SOlutions Ltd.

For more information on this source, please visit Hanwell Solutions Ltd.


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