Can we save the Kathleen & May for the UK?

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Three masted Cardiff Bay schooner Kathleen & May at Brest last year. Photo by Pymouss

The fabulous Kathleen & May, our last surviving timber-built three-masted topsail schooner described by the National Historic Ships as ‘an outstanding vessel of national significance’ and part of the National Historic Fleet, is in grave danger of being sold abroad.

The Arts Council is expected to grant approval for her to be sold abroad and the South West Maritime History Society has got up a petition to try prevent such a disastrous move – sign it here: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/45755

The vessel is well known to the British public as it starred in the famous [BBC television drama series] The Onedin Line and took part in the Queen’s Jubilee Parade last summer.

The SWMHS is calling on David Cameron to protect listed ships in the same way as listed buildings, as is done in other countries. It has a point – the important elements of our culture are not limited to its biggest icons, such as the Cutty Sark, which has received enormous attention and spending.

It also wants the National Lottery to establishing a substantial ‘attendance and interpretation’ fund to enable many more of these wonderful ships to attend the festivals, help keep them well maintained, provide sailing opportunities for young people, help stimulate local economies including by attracting visitors from abroad, and generally showing the flag for Britain at festivals abroad. It seems a reasonable request in the light of calculations that nothing else the Lottery does offers such a low cost per view.

3 thoughts on “Can we save the Kathleen & May for the UK?”

  1. It’s a shame that maritime historic stand in less regard than landbound history. the reason is that it is not regarded as “high” culture by the culture vultures. It’s not chique to drink beer from a bottle and you can’t sip champagne on a working boats deck and be wearing high heels – or a smoking.

  2. Kathleen and May is behind the foremost schooners. But it’s good you’ve highlighted this. The vessel would be unlikely to survive other than as a protected museum ship in the UK. There’s potential benefits to any harbour or marina as a focal point and she could provide training in woodworking and seamanship. But we have a problem in setting up any organisation that can do this. The Maritime Trust had her restored in the 1970′s at Plymouth but eventually gave up; the private owner in Bideford did as much as anyone could be expected to do but, not unreasonably, has also got to let her go. We need to find a way to do to wooden ships what the National Trust does with stately homes.

    1. I’m sure this is correct. it’s not enough to simply prevent the sale – there has to be a viable plan. And whole we’re thinking about such matters, we need also to secure a future for the Garlandstone.

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