UK’s oldest cargo-carrying sea-going steamship is towed away for restoration

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SS Robin, the oldest complete steam ship in the world

SS Robin, the oldest complete steam ship in the world

SS Robin, the oldest complete steam ship in the world

Victorian era steam ship SS Robin, the oldest complete steam
ship in the world, is towed away for restoration

The Victorian steam ship SS Robin, said to be the UK’s oldest complete cargo-carrying seagoing steamship and one of only three National Register of Historic Vessels Grade1/Core Collection ships in London – has left her home berth in Canary Wharf on her way to being restored.

The refit and restoration is the culmination of six years’ work for the SS Robin Trust, and has benefited from a £1.9 million loan from Crossrail, the new east-west railway for the capital. The new line is set to open a station near the SS Robin’s regular moorings next year.

“Volunteers and professionals have been working for months to prepare Robin for this complex journey, the first time she has left her home berth for nearly two decades,” said David Kampfner, project director and co-founder of SS Robin Trust.

I commuted daily to work in this part of London for several years and would see the SS Robin from the window of my train each morning – so I’m particularly pleased that her future seems assured.

PS – The SS Robin Trust has put up some new photos and video of her trip to Lowestoft. She’s to be slipped next week.

3 thoughts on “UK’s oldest cargo-carrying sea-going steamship is towed away for restoration”

  1. G'day Gavin. Will she be a working ship with a steam engine? I imagine volunteer stokers would be hard to find these days! Amongst my photo's somewhere (we're half packed up to move) are some of her contemporaries aground at low tide in small ports being loaded/unloaded from drays. Sailing timber carriers too with hatches in the bows being unloaded on the beach at low tide, with an anchor laid aft in deeper water to winch them off.


  2. From reading the website, it looks as though the planned work is all on fixing up the hull, I'm afraid. Boilers are fantastically expensive to maintain – I know this because an acquaintance happens to own a couple of steam engines.

    You know the drill Jeff – any time you have the energy, we're always grateful to be able to publish your old photographs!


  3. Delighted to read about your interest in SS Robin. We'd love to see the photographs, Gavin….regards the restoration of the engine, for reasons too lengthy to go into the funding package we secured does not include any mechanical restoration however we do have a wonderful volunteer programme and hope to get her steaming again in the near future. We're updating the website daily with pictures of the operation –, click on the news link for the latest.

    Nishani Kampfner Co-Founder SS Robin Trust

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