Pier traditional and historic boat events this weekend launch British Tourism Week

 

Painting party on the pier

Poster for Painting Party on the Quay at Newlyn this weekend

National Historic Ships has worked with British Tourism Week to make sure historic vessels have a central place in Party on the Pier (POTP) – a series of events around Britain on Saturday 12the March to mark the launch of British Tourism Week.

The event was conceived as a celebration of piers including jetties, harbours, river piers and landing stages, but also involves a wide range of vessels including the steam-powered passenger ship Shieldhall, Cornish lugger Ripple, motor tug Touchstone and Humber super sloop Spider T.

There may well be something going on near you:

Greenwich Historic Ships Harbour Project aims to make East Greenwich Coaling Jetty a public heritage facility enabling historic ships to visit and dock in London. The GHSH team will put on a tented exhibition on the history project and proposals for the pier, with handouts by the boat crews and the opportunity to sign up as a supporter.

Discover Lincolnshire Weekend event Historic Fleet vessel Spider T will be open from 10am-5pm on Sat 12th and Sun 13th March. Owner Mal Nicholson will be giving talks, opening a new library filled with many rare book copies of historic Humber vessels, people and places, and launching the ‘Friends of Spider T’ support group. Artist Lesley Everatt will be exhibiting some of her work, and Chris Horan author of the recently launched book Humber Sail and History will be on hand.

Heritage Quay, Newson’s Boatyard and Waveney District Council Newson’s Boat Yardwill showcase Lowestoft’s maritime heritage. Vessels on show at Heritage Quay will include sidewinder fishing ship Mincarlo and MTB102, a display by the International Boat Building College at Lowestoft and a sample engine from a steam ship; Newsons Yard will meanwhile be exhibiting vessels involved in the Dunkirk evacuation now under restoration, and there will be a display on the steam fishing vessel Lydia Eva.

Southampton Pier & Docks’ contribution is a tour of maritime Southampton starting from Kuti’s Royal Thai Pier restaurant, including the pier itself, the Titanic Museul and Southampton Maritime Museum before moving on by bus to see the Shieldhall.

Pooley Bridge Pier, Ullswater will see a Tea Party on the Pier from 10am and 3pm, with hosts in 1930’s costumes. Light refreshments are being supplied by Dalemain Historic House and the local RNLI group, and scheduled steamers calling at Pooley Bridge that day will be decorated with bunting and flags.

Newlyn Harbour & Quay Luggers and traditional boats in The Old Harbour at Newlyn are getting a fresh coat of paint for the new season, and  artists will be on the Quay painting the scene. A Newlyn Archive will put on a photographic display of the 14th century harbour and its luggers in their heyday. All are welcome to bring their cameras, canvas, brushes, paints and sketch pads and join in. Visitors with memories from the past will also be able to have them recorded.

Gillingham Pier, Kent Visit light vessel LV21 and hear sea shanties performed by the Hog Eye Men and music by the Big Fish Street Band. Visitors can make paper boats to their ever growing fleet, try their hand at ‘porthole art’ or learn Morse code, and meet people behind local restoration projects including the paddle steamer Medway Queen.

Rochester Pier, Kent will offer free river trips and vessel tours from the Sun Pier, The Esplanade at Rochester on 18-20 March, 10am – 3pm, on the motor tug Touchstone.

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is offering half price entry to the dockyard and the Spinnaker Tower.

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Alfred Corry, Southwold’s fabulous old lifeboat

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One of Southwold’s best attractions for boat enthusiasts is the Alfred Corry Museum, a small museum by the harbour where the main attraction is the lifeboat named Alfred Corry itself.

The Alfred Corry came into use in 1893 and continued in service until it was withdrawn in 1918. Provided by the Lifeboat Institution, it was built at a time when it was customary to discuss the boat’s size, type and sail plan with local lifeboatmen. The result of their deliberations was that the boat should be and improved 44ft by 13ft Norfolk and Suffolk type, non-self-righting, and capable of being both rowed and sailed. It was to have five tons of water ballast (the boat itself weighed 8.3 tons), and 14 oars – though the finished boat actually had 16.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, the lifeboatmen had their new craft rigged like one of the local beach yawls and fishing punts, with a dipping lug on the foremast and a standing lug on the mizzen.

Over the two and a half decades following her launch, the Alfred Corry was launched 41 times on service, and saved 47 lives.

On retirement she had a long life as a yacht until she was abandoned on the Blackwater, from where she was rescued by John Craigie, great grandson of her original coxswain, also known as John Craigie. The Craigies began the process of repairing the boat (see a clip of her sailing as a yacht here); she has since been restored in her original lifeboat form under the auspices of a charitable trust.

The museum building itself has a story worth telling. Built in 1922 it previously stood on Cromer pier, where it was the home of that town’s lifeboat. It is said to have seen over 1000 lives saved and was of course associated with legendary and highly decorated lifeboatman coxswain Henry George Blogg.

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St Leonard’s fishermen’s chapel, St Ives

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A memorial of an astonishing trip, presumably by a
member of the local artistic community

It was grey and rainy the day we reached St Ives, but I was nevertheless captivated by St Leonard’s, the little port’s fishermen’s chapel on Smeaton’s pier.

Typescript history

A typescript history (we don’t see many of them now!) shows that the building dates back to at least 1577, and has been renovated several times, most recently in 1971, when it was reopened as a small museum. In the old days, it seems, local fishermen retained the services of a friar who led prayers and services in the building.

There are some nice models, a touching memorial erected in 1959 to the fishermen lost to their families and community, and seats for those who wish to sit and pray, or simply think.

That engaging character Mike ‘Kipperman’ Smylie has some good stuff about the St Ives boats in his book Traditional Fishing Boats of Britain and Ireland, which you may find at ABE Books.

Interior, models and memorial, another plaque, and the exterior

And just outside I found the real thing – a mackerel driver. And
notice the ancient lifeboat moored just behind it