Keeping History Afloat (KHA) trainees visit Southampton

1 November 2013

Our Keeping History Afloat (KHA) trainees visited Southampton 22-25 October 2013, primarily for The Worshipful Company of Shipwrights' lecture for marine apprentices which was held at the University of Southampton on 23 October.

The lecture was split into two halves: a panel of the marine industry's finest were interviewed about the environmental issues they are facing and the second half was an opportunity to hear employees from Sunseeker talking about their progression in their career. Sean McMillan, founder and Managing Director of Spirit Yachts Ltd, also spoke about why he chose to build wooden yachts and the problems he encountered when starting his company.

The trainees' visit to Southampton was a good opportunity for the trainees to visit four other historic vessels and a boatyard which specialises in restoring historic yachts to the highest standards. Here's what they got up to:

SS Shieldhall, Southampton: the trainees were given a tour and stayed on board this historic vessel, registered on the National Historic Fleet, based in Southampton Docks. The ship is currently managing a Heritage Lottery funded project having received a grant of £1.4million for works needed to her hull.

Fairlie Yachts, Hamble: this company began in 1985 with the 18-month restoration of the schooner Altrair, designed by William Fife.  Following this, Duncan Walker set up a restoration facility specifically designed to restore Fife's yachts to the highest standards. In recent years, the yard has also taken on new builds, with the design of a range of Spirit of Tradition yachts.

The trainees were able to look at Fairlie's archive and see original drawings and yachts.

Some of the registered historic vessels which have been worked on by Fairlies:Moonbeam of Fife II and Kelpie.

Workshipful Company of Shipwrights lecture

HMS Victory, Portsmouth: one of the collection found in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, the historic vessel is at the start of a major conservation programme which so far has involved dismantling her three masts, bowsprit and rigging and which is expected to last for the next ten years.

The vessel's being conserved for permanent static display but during her working life and subsequently, she has undergone extensive reconstructive work meaning that original material from her build has already been replaced. A conservation management plan is being written for the vessel and a technical committee has been put in place to manage the forthcoming works.

HMS Alliance, Portsmouth: the only survivor of the successful 'A' class submarines  designed during the Second World War for operation primarily in the Far East, and to replace the smaller 'T' class boats which had been in service from 1937.

There is currently a £6.75m project under way to conserve the vessel and the project is following a fabric preservation route, retaining existing fabric wherever possible and retarding deterioration.

The trainees were shown the restoration work that has been carried out, together with a tour of the museum including how Holland I (the first submarine to be commissioned by the Royal Navy) had also been preserved.

Project Boleh, Southsea: a Shipshape Network Solent Project Page, Boleh is a historic yacht designed and built in Singapore in 1949 and then sailed back to the UK. She suffered a severe fire in 1978 and was rebuilt after becoming an insurance write-off. In 2008, a Trust was formed and a full reconstruction began.

Boleh has been awarded Heritage Lottery funding to complete her conservation and return her to operational use. When work is completed, she will be relaunched and used for sail training.

A small group of appentices are working on the junk yacht while studying for an NVQ in Marine Engineering and other qualifications over their three year programme.



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