Latest News from Britannia Sailing Trust
Well I guess the best news from us this time is that the “Big Shed” which houses our lovely old boat, is now complete! I think it probably is the biggest man shed in Devon, and in the words of one of our supporters, – “Now that is a shed and a half! And inside is what should be in every man shed – a boat to restore! Very best of luck with your work. You have the people that have the skills.”
So, the shed is all but finished, – and all the electrics, lighting, switches, sockets to carry the big machinery, have been installed by our wonderful volunteers, John, Peter, and Mike whilst Sam has been slightly incapacitated! This means that work can start in earnest on Britannia herself now, ahead of our planned schedule. It has been a long five years since September 2013 when we first saw her in Brixham harbour and made up our minds then to rescue her, to getting her here to Winkleigh and building the facilities which will ensure that work can be carried on all year round in a safe, sheltered environment.
On Saturday 21 July, 18 people turned up to help us to “raise the roof” on Britannia’s shed. Fortunately, the weather was calm and still as we had a very large tarpaulin weighing about 165kgs to be hauled up and secured. Sam’s system worked like clockwork, even to the use of a “pole” that he had asked one of our trustees to make, just in case, – and it turned out to be necessary to ease the tarp over the front end of the shed. It was a wonderful experience to have so many helpers, some old friends and some new ones, so many thanks to everyone who supported us that day, and thank you to the Kings Arms who supplied us with Beer and sandwiches after the event.
Once the space is completed and made safe, we will hold an “Open Day” and invite people to come along and see what a group of “Oldies” in Devon are up to. We are very keen to work with other local community groups as well, for example, the local History group and Art group, maybe Sea Scouts, or any community group that may be interested! We have spoken to Chulmleigh Community College to see if we can work with some of the technical students. Max, the 12 year old Grandson of one of our amazing volunteers, on being shown around the boat, said he was going to leave school and come and help to restore the boat as it would be really good science and better than at school!
The other news is that we are currently crowdfunding, hoping to raise £15,000 to buy materials for Britannia. This will keep the project alive for at least another year, as there are no other expenses. All labour, skilled and otherwise is voluntary, admin costs and overheads too are covered, so every penny we raise will be spent directly on the boat. If you are interested, have a look at our page. It’s worth it to have a laugh at Sam’s silly hat. Check it out on www.crowdfunder.co.uk/britannia-sailing-trust. The campaign is live until the end of September.
We are always happy to welcome new volunteers, young or not so young, and we would also be grateful for any donations that will help us to move the rebuild on, saving us precious funds. Timber, particularly oak, or elm, hand tools or power tools to add to our “Volunteers Tool Chest” – started by one of our supporters, John Clayton.
Vicki Samuels (Chair Britannia Sailing Trust)
Really enjoyed hosting Clare Woodling, a broadcast journalist from BBC Spotlight and Geoff Burrell, the cameraman, for a few hours at the end of August, when they filmed us inside Britannia’s new shed in Winkleigh. Two of our regular volunteers were unable to be there, but Alan, Mike and Thomas turned up and were filmed working on the spars, whilst Sam and I were able to chat to Clare about our plans, not just the daunting task of restoring Britannia, but her future role. Sam was able to demonstrate and display the ancient shipwright tools which he used on Britannia first rebuild. raised much interest on Twitter, and they were also impressed by Britannia’s history and old photographs that we have. The fact that we are self-confessed “Oldies” was a talking point and most of us are grandparents, the average age of our group of volunteers is 70! The final edit was great – we were all pleased with it, and hope that they will continue to follow our progress! It was broadcast on August 28th, but BBC Spotlight are letting us have a DVD of the item which well upload to our You Tube Channel as soon as it arrives.
We’ve been very busy over the last few weeks, so watch out soon for an UPDATE, meanwhile, please check out our fundraiser and do contribute if you can. We have some really great, unique awards on offer for those who do make a contribution.
More about our recent adventures very soon…
After a long, cold and very wet winter, we started to build the cover over Britannia in April, giving ample space for storage and working, and with the help and support of two local volunteers, Alan and Peter, we are well on the way. We hope the framework will be completed in the next few weeks so by the middle to the end of June we are aiming to cover the new frame with a very large canvas creating a weatherproof working environment that will last for the duration of the restoration.
We will be installing lights and power into the space, and organising it into a workshop, making a workbench, installing machinery, and sorting and sourcing timber. If you have, or know anyone who has electrical know-how please get in touch, as expert help would be much appreciated for this stage of the work.
We are planning a fun event in the summer which will celebrate the completion of the workshop. You will be able to see the boat and look around her down below, and I suspect we will have some more refreshments on the go and interesting activities to take part in. We will advertise this locally, on our facebook page and website, so look out for news.
Our work schedule for this year
- Constructing timber frame – 2 or 3 people needed for one more week
- Making Roof trusses – 2 or 3 people for 2 weeks
- Remove covers from boat and crane off cabin and spars, 2 or 3 people for one week
- Erecting roof trusses, 2 or 3 people for two weeks
- Pull on canvas roof and secure, 6 or 7 people, 3 days
- Make work benches, fit electrics, install machinery, sort and store timber, make steps. 2 – 6 people for 2 or 3 weeks
- Hold celebratory event on completion of workshop! I day.
- Clean out boat and remove all interior plywood fittings, remove remaining ballast
- remove deck and covering board and any rotten stanchions.
- Start work on interior of vessel.
- Other tasks to be arranged will be to take the lines off Britannia and also make a start on repairing her spars and making rigging.
As you can see, there is plenty of work to do, and it will be continuous, so if you fancy giving us a hand at any time, please get in touch. We have room at home to put people up for a few days. The pictures show our progress in the last couple of weeks, but we are still looking for volunteers to help as this project is quite daunting and we cannot do it on our own. We did it once before but we were both much younger then!
For more information about what we’ve been up to why not download our newsletter and have a read with a nice cup of tea: spring 2018 newsletter
Also in April we received a copy of a wonderful film about Britannia and Sam and Vicki’s life aboard. This “moving and beautiful film” can be viewed in full on our YouTube channel here: Britannia
On Saturday 3 February we held an event at Zukis Cafe, to celebrate Britannia’s arrival in Winkleigh. There was information about her history, a display of woodworking tools and navigation instruments as well as many photographs and articles about her long life. Mariner’s Away, a sea shanty group from South Zeal on Dartmoor, came to sing for us and to help to raise funds.
2017 was a year of ups and downs, with some funding bids succeeding and some not! This caused us to have a total rethink about the best place to keep Britannia, whilst she undergoes restoration. Therefore, the big news story of late last year is the beginning of the next stage of Britannia’s long life, moving her from Gweek to a hilltop village in mid- Devon, to be restored for the second time by Sam Samuels.
Winkleigh is on the Mariners Way, which was traditionally the shortest route that sailors took between Bideford in North Devon, and Dartmouth in the south, looking for work. Devon has a rich maritime history, ship-building and sea-faring with cargo and fishing boats in abundance.
It was on a cold, midwinter day that Britannia undertook her latest journey, by road this time on a low loader from Gweek to Winkleigh. It was such an unusual adventure for an old wooden boat that we even made the local news. To read more and watch a wee video of her arriving in Gweek click the following link to the Devon News or check out our own video on our YouTube Channel: Britannia arriving at her new home
Additional news from 2017 is below:
The Historic Dockyard, Chatham
In early October, Sam and Vicki made a trip to the Ropery at the Historic Dockyard Chatham to get a quote for all Britannia’s new rope, and were both amazed by the place and delighted that we can buy all our rope from a British manufacturer steeped in Naval history. It feels very fitting for our centenarian vessel! Highly recommend the Dockyard at Chatham for a great family day out.
If you are interested in the Ropery, check out their website for more information here: Ropery
The Association for Industrial Archaeology
Thanks so much to The Association for Industrial Archaeology for their support this year. We’re delighted to be able to tell you that we have been awarded £18,700 by them, one only 8 projects funded this year
The AIA grant of will contribute to Britannia’s restoration by allowing us to invest in a new rig. This comprises, a new main mast, all wire rope for standing rigging, dead-eyes and rope for her running rigging.
National Historic Ships
We’re also very grateful to National Historic Ships UK, who have granted us a sustainability award of £1,500 – the maximum they can give.