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Our History

The Maritime Heritage Trust was formed in 2011 from the amalgamation of The Maritime Trust and Heritage Afloat. 
Some of the history of The Maritime Trust has been set out for us in the form of a timeline by Janet Hales, who was secretary of that trust for many years. This is shown below.

Also, Richard Doughty who was Company Secretary of The Maritime Trust from 2001 to 2011 put together a note on the Achievements of the Trust   VIEW HERE

What happened in subsequent years? What was the history of Heritage Afloat, our other predecesor organisation? 
We will be collecting information to provide a fuller history.
Email us with any contribution - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.




1969 founded with HRH The Duke of Edinburgh as Patron, The Duke of Westminster as Chairman and Lt.Col. Ronald Shaw-Kennedy as Director

1970 First vessels purchased: Topsail schooner Kathleen & May (built 1900) and Thames spritsail barge Cambria (built 1906)

1971 Auxiliary steam sloop (former HMS) Gannet (built 1878), steam herring drifter Lydia Eva (1930), Brixham trawler Provident (1924) (chartered to the Island Cruising Club of Salcombe), Bristol Channel pilot cutter Kindly Light (1911) and North East coast fishing mule Blossom (1887) acquired by the Trust

1971 Vice-Admiral Sir Patrick Bayly was appointed Director

1971 Following restoration Kathleen & May was opened to the public at Sutton Harbour, Plymouth

1971 Following restoration Cambria was opened to the public at Rochester, Kent

1972 Following restoration Lydia Eva was opened to the public at Great Yarmouth, Norfolk

 1972 Cornish fishing lugger Barnabas (1881), Falmouth oyster dredger Softwing  (1910), Gorran Haven crabber Ellen (c 1882), Sunderland foyman’s coble Peggy (1890/1900), Tyne wherry Elswick II (late 1930s) and the J-Class Yacht Endeavour (1934) acquired by the Trust

1973 (?) the Trust entered an agreement with the (independent) “Cutty Sark” Society to manage the Cutty Sark in her Greenwich berth.  The Trust also took over the operation of Sir Francis Chichester’s yacht Gipsy Moth IV, also at Greenwich.

1974 The Trust changed from a charitable trust with custodian trustees to a company limited by guarantee, with a board of directors (the Trust’s Council), and charitable status, in part to simplify the ownership of vessels

1974 Steam coaster Robin (1890) purchased with the aid of a government PRISM fund grant of £10,000 via the Science Museum (Fund for the Preservation of Scientific and Technological Material).

1974 Steam Cutter No.463 (1899) purchased also with PRISM Fund help (£3,000)

1975 The Council of the Maritime Trust and the Governors of the “Cutty Sark” Society were merged.

1976 Lord Boyd of Merton succeeded the Duke of Westminster as Chairman

1976 Lydia Eva was steamed from her display berth (Great Yarmouth) to King’s Lynn, where she was built in 1930, for the King’s Lynn Festival

1977 Windermere Steamboat Museum opened by HRH The Prince of Wales, having been built with the financial and fund raising support of the Maritime Trust in order to match funds promised by the English Tourist Board

1977 Sailing rally, Falmouth, with the Trust’s three West Country fishing vessels (Provident, Barnabas and Softwing) joined by Lively Lady and vessels of the Island Cruising Club, resulting in the formation of the Falmouth Friends of the Maritime Trust who were to play an important role in looking after the Trust’s West Country vessels (later the Cornish Friends of the Maritime Trust)

1977 The Trust’s north east vessels (Blossom, Peggy and Elswick II) were placed on permanent loan with Tyne and Wear Museums which became responsible for their restoration, maintenance and display.

1977 The Trust decided to concentrate its museum vessels, including Kathleen & May, Cambria and Lydia Eva, all operating at a loss in their seaside locations, in St Katharine’s Dock in London, and entered negotiations with St.Katharine-by-the-Tower Ltd. , the collection also to include their vessels the Nore lightsthip and steam tug Challenge, as well as the steam coaster Robin on completion of restoration

1977 The Ministry of Defence announced that the hulk of HMS Warrior (1860) would be disposed of and the Maritime Trust started to consider her future.

1978 The hulk of the Endeavour was sold for £10 to a private individual for restoration, the Trust having been unable to form a viable plan for her future restoration and care within the Trust’s fleet.

1979 Maldwin Drummond succeeded Lord Boyd of Merton as Chairman

1979 The Historic Ship Collection in St Katharine’s Dock opened to the public on 26 May

1979 The Trust took over HMS Discovery from the Ministry of Defence following a joint application with the National Maritime Museum, the Trust to own and restore the ship and the Museum to be responsible for exhibiting the ship.

1979 The Trust took over the hulk of the Warrior from the Ministry of Defence and arranged her tow from Milford Haven to Hartlepool for restoration under the management of Locomotion Enterprises  (1975) Ltd (builders of the replica steam locomotive Locomotion).  The cost of the restoration was estimated as between £4m and £8m, to be underwritten by the Manifold Trust, with the intention of displaying the ship to the public in Portsmouth

1980 RRS Discovery and SS Robin joined the Historic Ship Collection in St Katharine’s Dock

1980 The Maritime Trust took over direct management of the restoration of the Warrior at Hartlepool.

1981 The Friends of the Maritime Trust were formed as a membership organisation to support the Trust

1982 The Trust received the twin screw steam tug Portwey (1927) as a gift from Richard Dobson who had restored and maintained her in steaming condition on the River Dart in Devon for many years.  She was steamed to London to join the Historic Ship Collection.

1983 Ownership of the Warrior was transferred to a separate trust (Ships Preservation Trust) directly managed by the Manifold Trust (the funding body) but with the Maritime Trust retaining a small shareholding

1983 A major fund raising appeal was launched for the continuing restoration of RRS Discovery with work continuing on the vessel in St Katharine’s Dock, providing additional interest to the visiting public

1984 The Trust’s offshoot in Gosport, Hampshire,  spearheaded by Peter Hollins, was established as the Maritime Workshop Ltd, carrying out valuable restoration work on small vessels, with funding from the Manpower Services Commission to train young people in boat repair techniques.  The Maritime Trust provided start-up loans.

1985 Negotiations with the Dundee Project culminated in RRS Discovery being chartered for twenty years to Dundee Industrial Heritage, which undertook to complete the ship’s restoration and display her to the public in Dundee, where she was built

1985 Kathleen & May was moved from St Katharine’s Dock to St Mary Overy Dock, Southwark, the dock having been converted to a graving dock to allow dry docking for hull repairs, by the developers, Eagle Star Properties Ltd.

1986 saw a major dispersal of the Maritime Trust’s fleet.  RRS Discovery was moved to Dundee.  The Historic Ship Collection in St Katharine’s Dock was closed at the end of October owing to inadequate visitor revenue over its eight years of operation.  Cambria was moved to the Dolphin Sailing Barge Museum, Sittingbourne, Kent, while Robin, Lydia Eva and Portwey were laid up in London’s West India Dock.

1986 An appeal to raise funds needed for Provident’s major refit was launched.

1986 Lively Lady, after some years in the care of Merseyside Maritime Museum, was transferred to Portsmouth City Museums.

1987 A conference on ship preservation hosted jointly by the Maritime Trust and the National Maritime Museum was held at the Museum and was attended by representatives of about 50 ship preservation organisations in the UK, with the aim of establishing ship preservation on a par with other fields of heritage preservation, with comparable recognition and financial support from government and similar sources.

1987 HMS Gannet was chartered to the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust for restoration and permanent display, and was towed there from Portsmouth Harbour

1987 Kathleen & May reopened to the public after refit in her new berth at St Mary Overy, Southwark, but visitor numbers were disappointing.

1988 Portwey, having been kept in steaming condition for a number of years by a keen group of volunteers, led by Lawrence Beeching, won the Steam Heritage Award, Marine Category, sponsored by British Coal.

1988 The Cambria Restoration Project was set up by Tony Ellis to remedy the barge’s deterioration.

1988 Vice-Admiral Sir Patrick Bayly retired as Director of the Trust and was appointed to the Trust’s Council.  Wing Commander Ken Lucas, Deputy Director, became Director

1989 On 10 July the Maritime Trust and the “Cutty Sark” Society amalgamated to form the Cutty Sark Maritime Trust.  The office moved from Ebury Street, London SW1 to 2 Greenwich Church Street, SE10.  Arthur Weller succeeded Maldwin Drummond as Chairman.

1990 On 11 December the Trust’s title reverted to the Maritime Trust

1990 The Cutty Sark Medal was instituted to recognise outstanding contributions to ship preservation or seafaring, and the first medal was presented by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh to Frank Carr, the pioneer of ship preservation, who instigated Cutty Sark’s preservation in the 1950s.

1990 Lydia Eva was chartered to a new trust on the East Coast, supported by Great Yarmouth and Waveney Councils, and Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils, for repair and display.  The vessel was towed to Lowestoft for drydocking.

1990 Provident’s major refit, commenced in 1987, was completed.  A new organisation in Devon was planned to take her on charter to keep her sailing.

1990 The three North East traditional boats were given to Tyne and Wear Museums after many years on loan.

1991 A major fund raising appeal was launched to fund a very significant restoration programme for Cutty Sark, which has been in her Greenwich dry dock since 1953.  Working in situ presented particular challenges.



 1994 Heritage Afloat was launched on the 6th of October and to mark the event a parade of twenty historic vessels led by the PS Waverley was organised.