As reported in September, supporters of the historic vessel Oakdale, currently moored on the mudflats of the Duddon Estuary, recently set up the Oakdale Mersey Flat Trust, with the aim of fully restoring the vessel and returning her to the Mersey, hopefully to her birthplace of Runcorn.  Now the Trust have launched a new crowdfunding campaign to help raise funds for the restoration project. 

Built in 1951, Oakdale is the last remaining composite construction Mersey Flat in the world, and one of only two surviving Flats, the other being
Mossdale, now preserved onshore at the National Waterways Museum in Ellesmere Port.  Oakdale spent her working life on the Rivers Mersey and Weaver and was used as a grain barge.  After suffering considerable damage during storms in March 2020 - during which liveaboard owner Dave Keenan and his dog had to be rescued by the inshore lifeboat - a team of volunteers are now working to restore the vessel.  Once restored, she will be used as a floating classroom for vulnerable young people on Merseyside in partnership with the sailing charity Merseyside Adventure Sailing Trust (MAST).

Keenan bought Oakdale in 1977, restored the boat over the following 43 years and preserved her as an important piece of maritime heritage.  He is the last of the skippers who sailed these boats on the waterways of the North West, and his story and sailing expertise will be a crucial part of the project.  

Ultimately, the Trust hope to found a heritage boatyard at the site of Oakdale’s launch, or the site of the former Town Slip in Runcorn, where Old Quay Yard once maintained the vessels of the Manchester Ship Canal.  Various connections have been made, including with a shipwright and a 3D mapping expert, who are helping them to fully determine the state and needs of Oakdale.  The most urgent priority is to patch up the vessel for winter and refloat her further up the beach.  Supporter Martin Dewhurst warned if that action was not taken quickly, the boat could be lost by this time next year.

If you would like to offer your services as a volunteer, or just find out more about the project, you can contact the Trust via their Facebook page

Donate to the crowdfunder

Oakdale Region North