The Excelsior Trust was set up as a registered charity in 1983 to restore and maintain the historic Lowestoft sailing smack Excelsior and to promote sail training.  Excelsior is a National Historic Fleet vessel built
in 1921 with a seasonal operational programme, largely focussing on youth development.  In addition, the Trust owns a number of other
historic vessels: Horace and Hannah, a Yarmouth shrimper; City of Edinboro', a Hull sailing trawler of 1884; Estralita, an East Channel punt; and Concretian, a war-time ferro-concrete barge.

In 2000, the Trust purchased a redundant Lake Lothing shipyard as a permanent refit and operating base for Excelsior.  The yard is located adjacent to the International Boatbuilding Training College (IBTC) yard and offers larger scale shipwright tools and facilities including: two slipways capable of taking vessels up to 100 foot long; a launching ramp; a shipwright’s shop with a band saw, rip saw, thicknesser and wetstone; a steam chest; plate rollers and a mould loft.  

The slipways have been set up with the following capacities (on good Spring tides) but can be reconfigured for other jobs:

No. l Slip

Normally up to c. 100' LOA x 23' beam x 6' 6" draught for'ard x 13' draught aft (30 x 7 x 2 x 4m) x 250 tons displacement. Suitable for motor fishing vessels, sailing trawlers, very large yachts, tugs and commercial barges.

No. 2 Slip

Normally up to c. 55' LOA x 4' 6" draught for'ard x 9' draught aft (17 x 1.4 x 2.8m) x 80 tons displacement. Suitable for smaller motor fishing vessels, smacks, large yachts, water buses, lifeboats, wherries and pontoons.

Floodlighting, water, 110v, 240v, 415v, lock-up store, office, and extensive welding facilities are also available and the Trust is happy to hear from other heritage organisations wishing to use its facilities as part of the Shipshape East Anglia (SEA) hub.

Since its establishment almost thirty years ago, the Trust has developed wide-ranging expertise in areas such as: ship conservation; fundraising and promotion; sail training; ship yard & vessel management; and networking; and is happy to offer advice and guidance on these topics. 

Volunteer support

An army of helpers is coming to the aid of Excelsior, receiving the ministrations of a newly formed British Army Infantry Reserve Unit based at Lowestoft who will be lending their not inconsiderable skills to help with the refurbishment.

SHTP Project Partner

The Excelsior Trust is also one of National HIstoric Ships UK's project partners on the SHTP training scheme, hosting one of the five trainees each year.  For more about the scheme, please see the SHTP project page for this region.

News - Sailing Calendar for 2017 now available 

Whilst our Winter Refit gets underway, we are pleased to announce our 2017 season sailing calendar is drafted up!

This is by no means set in stone as it is a working document, you may find there are tweaks here and there as the season progresses. Bookings have already been made by many organisations so get in touch soon to get your trip booked. Excelsior can accommodate your group’s plans and ideas, so whether it be a Geography trip to look at the White Cliffs of Dover, a challenging character building voyage across the North Sea or a pilgrimage with a difference, they can help make it happen.

View the 2017 Calendar here.

Posted January 2017

News - All aboard Excelsior for the Regional Flagship of the Year Event, 26 May 2016

The historic Lowestoft sailing smack Excelsior has been awarded the Regional Flagship of the Year Award from National Historic Ships UK in recognition for her 2016 Shipshape East Anglia programme, which extends across the North Sea and the South Coast of England. A regional award of £250 has been made to support elements of this programme. 

The criteria for this award requires vessel owners to come forward with seasonal programmes which engage with the public through festivals, demonstrations, offering on-board cruises, quayside visits, educational programmes, participation in races and similar activities. 

Martyn Heighton, Director of National Historic Ships UK said: "This award is designed to recognise vessels that are undertaking very exciting programmes of public events in their regions which raise the profile of historic vessels and the importance of our maritime heritage."

The Excelsior Trust Chair Jamie Campbell: " We are delighted that our commitment to maintaining part of East Anglia's maritime heritage has been recognised by National Historic Ships UK. This pestigious award reflects the dedication by a small group of both young and not so young who enjoy their time aboard her and we are determined to carry on making her available to as many people as possible in years to come." 

NEWS - Excelsior back in action!

The Excelsior Trust has appointed trans-Atlantic sailor Simon Layton as its skipper.  As well as being a classically trained musician (trumpet) and teacher, 41yr old Simon is a qualified professional captain and instructor and  has a wealth of experience including Square-rig, Traditional & Modern sailing yachts on Trans-atlantics, the Indian Ocean and South China Sea.

A qualified rescue diver Simon’s most recent activity has been as a Director of Atlantic Bound – offering personal development through adventurous challenge including yachting, scuba, hiking, climbing. He’s trained and prepared crew for Clipper Round the World Race 2013-14 and was previously skipper in Outward Bound Hong Kong for over a year.

Excelsior will once again become a familiar sight off the Norfolk and Suffolk coast from the beginning of August having undergone a refurbishment including the replacement of a mizzen mast broken in the Channel. 

Taking up to 12 people to sea at a time the Lowestoft-based ship will become a learning hub combining land based skills and at sea experience within the framework of the National Curriculum.

This new initiative is aimed at the young people who find classroom learning uninspiring & also an addition to the educational programme of students without such problems. The Trust is in discussion with many schools as well as The Prince’s Trust, The Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme all of which are keen to use Excelsior for the purpose of Youth Development. 

Geoffrey Copeman OBE, Chair of Excelsior Trust: “We are delighted to have appointed Simon and his team ensuring that Excelsior will once more become a familiar magnificent sight on our seas.”

Based on Lowestoft’s Heritage Quay from the 1st August, future plans include taking part in the largest youth festival in the world - The Tall Ships Race in 2014.

Day sails are available from £55 per person.

Posted Aug 13


Region news headlines

Wherry yachts Norada and Hathor will be opening to visitors.

Historic Vessels to take part in Heritage Open Days

Read all our news »

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tel: 0208 312 8558
fax: 0208 312 6632
email: info@shipshapenetwork.org.uk

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