Nick Ardley speaks!
West Wales Maritime Heritage Society member Brian King has been in touch to tell us about the society’s latest activities. Here’s what he says:
‘The society has been a bit quiet, our museum is open six days a week until the end of September, and behind the scenes we have been hard at work.
‘Our priority is to finish building our replica Tenby Lugger, Heritage, which was started by MITEC college in Milford Haven. We acquired the unfinished hull in July 2017, after the college ceased operations, and are currently working on the spars and auxiliary engine and are hoping to finish her in time for a naming event in Tenby in July.
‘We will use the lugger to take primary school children afloat as part of an education programme.
‘There were nearly 100 luggers in Tenby and ports all around, but after the steam trawlers came they were only used for tourist fishing and holidaymakers’ trips round the bay.
‘We are also building a copy of a local smaller fishing boat in the museum to demonstrate traditional tools and materials.
‘As well as maritime material, our museum also has displays of steam engines, models and local history.
‘The local scouts are building coracles in our shed. Each group will build their own and then combine for trips and competitions, and there is a programme for unemployed people to volunteer with us with the aim of improving their job prospects.
‘The Royal Naval Air Service armoured car was one of only 12 built on a Ford Model T chassis, and fought in Russia in 1916 and 17. It had a Maxim or a Vickers machine gun on the back.
‘It is not ours, but we show it because the owner does not have a display space. He bought in packing crates three years ago. The wheels and tyres are modern replacements, but most of the armour plates, engine etc is original. It is now roadworthy and will appear at Tankfest this summer.
‘We have 25 regular members, and always happy to welcome new recruits: specialist skills are not required, as there’s a lot to do painting boats and manning the museum.
‘Our Facebook page is West Wales Maritime Museum.’
Thanks Brian! Good luck with your great projects this year!
Regular readers may remember that Brian built a Barton skiff some years ago.
‘Felixstowe was the first container port in the country when it opened half a century ago and yet, as the great cranes were being built, I was aboard the vessel delivering the port’s last freight under sail.
‘Standing on the mast-deck of the 91ft Thames Sailing Barge Cambria, as the narrow dock entrance neared, was the 18-year-old mate, myself, anxiously awaiting the order to stow sail. At the wheel was the 63-year-old skipper, Bob Roberts, carefully judging the ebb which was running across the mouth of the dock entrance.
‘Cambria was already long out of her time: other sailing barges had been converted to power, houseboats or yachts, while the majority had been hulked in lonely creeks. So a crowd of bystanders had gathered to watch us sail in. This did not help my growing nervous tension. There was even a young mother who turned her pram to face the water so baby could watch, too. “Come on, Bob,” I said under my breath, “give the order.” Read more…