Faversham Society talk: VIC 56 – A steamship’s journey 7.30pm 25th March at the Fleur Hall

VIC56. Picture source: https://www.geograph.org.uk/more.php?id=5531907

VIC56 is an 85 foot steamship constructed in 1945 as part of the wartime shipbuilding programme, and now preserved in working order by a small group of volunteers.

She is technically a steam coasting lighter or a ‘puffer‘and is one of 98 victualling inshore craft built to the orders of the Ministry of War Transport between 1941 and 1945, as part of the enormous Government wartime ship-building programme.

VIC 56 was one of two puffers built by Pollocks of Faversham.

Henry Cleary, the owner of VIC56, will be coming to speak about the boat at a Faversham Society open evening. With efforts going on to create a Heritage Harbour here in Faversham, now is a good time to consider whether VIC56 should come home to Faversham.

The Faversham Creek Trust is a member of the Heritage Harbour Group and the Bridge Steering Group and is working to regenerate Faversham’s Maritime Heritage.

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Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories to open 23rd March

The Lake District’s swish new £20m Windermere Jetty Museum of Boats, Steam and Stories will open its doors on 23 March.

I keep thinking what a fabulous place it will be for those lucky enough to work there!

The new museum is on the site of the former Windermere Steamboat Museum, which was founded in 1977 by George Pattinson, a steam enthusiast who amassed the unique collection of boats which are all associated with Windermere.

The new museum will have an open-access conservation workshop where visitors will see the team of skilled conservation boat builders conserve and restore vessels using traditional boat building skills. There will also be training, apprentice and volunteer programmes.

The museum will tell the stories of the boats, who built and owned them and how they were used on Windermere. The museum will open with five themed displays: Just Visiting, Life of Luxury, War & Innovation, Spirit of Adventure and Speed. Each will tell unique stories of the people whose lives are linked to the collection, such as steel magnate Henry Schneider who used his yacht TSSY Esperance (1869), to commute to work. These stories will tell visitors about the craft and history of boat building on Windermere and the fascinating and eventful personal stories behind the collection.

Key highlights of the museum’s collection include:

  • 11 vessels listed by National Historic Ships as nationally important
  • 10 classic Windermere steam launches (1890s / 1900s)
  • rare early yacht, Margaret (1780)
  • SL Dolly (1850), thought to be the oldest mechanically
  • powered boat in the world
  • Beatrix Potter’s tarn boat, which she used to sketch in on Moss Eccles Tarn
  • pioneering motor, speedboats and hydroplanes used on the lake from 1898 – 1980
  • Canfly (1922), powered by a seven-litre Rolls Royce aero engine
  • two fully-restored boats on the lake, one of which visitors
    will be able to sail on when the museum opens

Classic Boat Awards: time to vote!

It’s time once again to vote in the Classic Boat magazine’s annual Awards, a time of high excitement for both owners of shortlisted boats and for those who work on them – who of course may often be the same people.

This year the West Wales Maritime Heritage Society at the historic Hancock’s Boatyard in Pembroke Dock have got in touch to ask me to draw attention to their Tenby lugger named Heritage. In Victorian times these boats were common in the area, but Heritage is now the only working example. Go to the traditional new build category to vote for her.

While there, check out Alasdair Grant’s 18ft half-decked fishing boat
Eilean Geisgeir; he’s building a few of these and this one is reinforced so that it can be kept on a beach.

Meanwhile Fortuna II has been nominated and shortlisted for an award in the restored power vessel over 40ft category. Charlie Hussey has been doing the work and Fortuna II is looking gorgeous, from what I can see.