Heritage Lottery Fund cash boost for Blyth boat restoration project

The Royal Northumberland Yacht Club has received a cash boost for the House Yacht Tyne light vessel preservation project

The Northumbrian Royal Yacht Club light vessel
The Northumbrian Royal Yacht Club light vessel

Restoration plans have been drawn up for a vessel which would have helped keep North East collier boats safe.

The Royal Northumberland Yacht Club, based in the Port of Blyth in Northumberland, has received a £69,600 development grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help prepare the way for the club’s House Yacht Tyne light vessel preservation project.

Light vessels with lanterns were used for locations where it was not possible to provide a lighthouse.

The club, which uses the vessel as a base for its 700 members, hopes to make a full HLF application in December for the £670,000 cost of the project.

The club rescued the boat in 1952 from a ship breaker in Ipswich, where she had been towed following completion of a long service life which included two world wars.

Built in 1879, she is the one of the last of the fully timbered light vessels in the UK and the most original floating example of her type.

She served all her life along the South Coast of England, including the Thames approaches where she assisted navigation for ships from both Continental ports but also for colliers from the North East carrying coal for London.

She never had an engine but was towed to station and she was not equipped with an electric light, instead using shale oil to provide lantern illumination.

The project aims to carry out the repair or replacement of all rotted timber in the hull, repair or replace superstructure and build and install the boat’s lantern.

The history of the vessel will be researched and made available for historians, schools and other interested parties through the digitisation of photographic records and drawings.

Community groups will also be encouraged to join in educational activities designed to reflect the historical nature of the vessel and the times she operated in.

This will include acting as visitor guides and presenting historical information about the vessel to schoolchildren who will be encouraged to visit.

The initiative will also provide training to volunteers in presentation skills, research, documentation, digitisation and archival skills.

Apprenticeships are likely to be developed as part of the repair project to this timber vessel.

It is expected that preservation work will start in early summer 2015 and take approximately eight months to complete.

Paul Common, club commodore, said: “We are very proud of House Yacht Tyne and her history and it is important that we preserve her and make her available for the community and future generations.

“We must ensure her historical value as one of the last British timber light vessels is maintained and the knowledge that has already been generated through our work in seeking this funding shows that there is a huge interest in having her here in the North East.”

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