SS Robin arrives in London

14 July 2011

One of the world's last surviving steamcoasters, the SS Robin, returned to east London yesterday, where she began her life.

She is one of the vessels on the National Historic Fleet, a sub-group of the National Register of Historic Vessels, which are distinguished by being of pre-eminent national or regional significance.  SS Robin is one of the three maritime landmarks in the capital along with Cutty Sark and HMS Belfast.

The 300-tonne, traditional cargo steamer was built at Thames Ironworks in Blackwall, east London and launched in 1890.  She was in service for 80 years during which time she visited 140 ports around the British Isles and Europe and spent most of her life in Spain before being brought back to the UK in 1970.

SS Robin was initially brought to St Katharine Docks by the Tower of London, but restoration could not be compelted because of a lack of funding.  In 1991, the vessel was moved to West India Dock in east London and mothballed until 2002 when it became the property of the SS Robin Trust.  She was towed to Lowestoft in Suffolk in 2008 for £1.9m of external repairs.

Now, she will undergo internal restoration to become a floating museum while at the Royal Docks in Newham borough. 

Newham Mayor, Sir Robin Wales, said the mooring of the vessel at the Royal Docks would signal the 'huge potential heare for investment, growth and greater prosperity'.

Nishani Kampfner, co-founder of SS Robin Trust, said the mercantile vessel was 'one of the capital's most important maritime symbols - and an amazing sight.

'She's been under wraps for the past three years undergoing extensive restoration work, and now this irreplaceable historic ships sits proudly on a new floating pontoon - like a precious sculpture.'

The ship will be on public display during the 2012 Olympics and could be opened to the public later in the year.


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