The Society

The SS Explorer Preservation Society (SSEPS) organisation’s aim is, in the first instance, to restore Explorer to a condition in which she can fulfil a variety of uses based around her acting as a museum amongst the other Leith and River Forth maritime attractions. Once a technical survey of the ship is available, further restoration measures will be considered.

The SSEPS has members with specific ship repair/maintenance skills and some members who actually served on the vessel; these volunteers have worked hard over the years to hold back deterioration. However, the major restoration works will have to be carried out professionally, whilst these members continue to address some of the practical issues on board.

To support and realise what will be a complex and lengthy project, the EPS proposes to recruit volunteers to address and manage areas such as
• developing a robust organisation to manage the ship’s restoration and supporting activities
• refining the Society’s financial transparency and accountability
• researching and recording Explorer’s history and heritage
• gathering and conserving relevant artefacts
• establishing the ship’s position within the context of Leith’s other maritime heritage assets
• adapting the ship together with its history and artefacts as a museum
• investigation of how the ship can “earn its living” as a museum and a venue for sundry activities within the wider Forth estuary maritime heritage context
Plus two first steps absolutely essential to the ship’s survival
• pursuing dry docking, cleaning, painting and securing of the hull along with a comprehensive technical survey of all aspects of the ship
• securing a publically accessible berth in Leith docks

Obviously such a venture will require significant funds and the EPS must develop a credible organisation and working practices so that potential funders can have confidence in the Society’s management of the restoration programme.


The SS Explorer Preservation Society was formed in 1995, as a direct result of enthusiasts becoming aware of the SS Explorer being sold for scrap for a second time. Many seafarers and locals from the North East of Scotland in addition to several former crew members joined together and formed the Society which now owns and is currently restoring the SS Explorer to her former glory. The society has a constitution and is a registered Scottish Charity. Within this framework a Company Limited by Guarantee (Registered in Scotland No 156992) was formed responsible for the restoration project and management of the society through a board of approved directors. Sub-committees concerned with specific areas of refurbishment or upgrading are appointed and directed by the board as and when required.

Development Plan

It is the intention of the SS Explorer Preservation Society to restore the SS Explorer to become a symbol of Scotland’s engineering and scientific heritage.

The ship will be available for public viewing, educational and training purposes and for use for corporate events.

We aim to carry out such a restoration plan in phases:

  • Phase 1 is to have the vessel cosmetically restored with missing artefacts replaced and damaged/deteriorated areas repaired. The ship will be prepared and accredited for use as a working-floating museum, rather like a steam railway workshop.
  • Phase 2 of the project, will be to carry out various restorations of various pieces of machinery whilst the ship operates as a museum. This will include the overhaul of the main engine, boiler and auxiliaries so that, as far as possible,  every piece of machinery on board is working.


The society is developing an educational outreach program using the history of the SS Explorer as an additional resource for maths, engineering, science, marine ecology, and social history.

The program will start with the “Navigating Maths with the SS Explorer” module which focuses on the calculations involved with planning, provisioning and navigating a voyage or research cruise similar to those that the SS Explorer undertook.

Students will work in roles and role play as the ships bridge team on a research cruise.

Currently, the society has enough equipment to run the module for groups of up to 9. We are seeking additional funding or partnerships to allow the module to run for full classes, run teacher training events and develop kits which can be sent to schools nationwide.

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