Certificate no 1858
Status National Historic Fleet


Function Fishing Vessel
Subfunction Trawler
Location Sunderland
Current use Ongoing conservation
Available to hire No
Available for excursions No
Info required Yes


Builder Unknown
Built in 1901
Hull material Wood
Rig None
Number of decks 1
Number of masts
Propulsion Motor
Number of engines 1
Primary engine type Diesel
Boiler type None
Boilermaker None


Breadth: Beam
16.50 feet (5.03 m)
5.00 feet (1.53 m)
Length: Overall
55.00 feet (16.78 m)
Tonnage: Gross
Air Draft
To be confirmed


The trawler WILLDORA, built in 1901 in Scotland was one of three sister vessels named after the owner's wife and two daughters - WILLDORA, WILLANNE and WILLMARIE.

WILLDORA is credited with saving 200 lives despite being badly damaged by shellfire. After the war, WILLDORA went back to fishing and was later sold as a pleasure craft. She was intended as a training ship for the district's school children, but the local council ran out of money. For three years, she lay sunk in Sunderland's South Dock until a local garage owner, George Fraser, met a Dunkirk veteran who identified her and decided to salvage her for use as a pleasure cruiser. With members of Hartlepool Diving Club, a crane and 10 helpers she was raised. Almost immediately afterwards, following a further act of vandalism, she sank at her moorings and, after being lifted out, sat on the quayside for three years. The Trust, unable to start all over again, donated WILLDORA to the Dunkirk Little Ships Restoration Trust with the recommendation that Chris Carolan was willing and able to take on the restoration. A charitable trust was formed to raise funds to restore her. Over the next few years the hull and deck was replanked and a new wheelhouse and saloon were built to accommodate disabled people when taken out on sea trips.

In 1993, she led the Tall Ships fleet out of the river Tyne at the start of their race.

In 2008, WILLDORA was awaiting a refurbishment before becoming part of Sunderland Maritime Heritage's programme of activities to be used for publicity, training and fundraising. Since then she has been restored and the project was completed in summer 2018 on time for the Tall Ships Races from Sunderland. 

Although this vessel is on the National Historic Fleet, we are currently lacking information on this particular vessel. If you have any information on this vessel past or present, please contact us.


ADLS News: Fleet news, Spring 2015

Key dates

  • 1901

    Year of build

  • 1940

    Took part in Dunkirk evacuation

  • 1970s

    Bought by Sunderland Council  as a maritime project; later a charitable trust set up to restore her

  • 1993

    Led the Tall Ships fleet out of the River Tyne and later sank at her moorings

  • 1994

    Donated to the Dunkirk Little Ships Restoration Trust

  • 2012

    Restoration at Sunderland under way


  • October 2010

    Secured a further grant of £40,000 from the City of Sunderland S.I.P. (Single Innovation Plan). Source: current owner

  • 7 October 2008

    A Suistainability Grant of £1,500 was made to WILLDORA towards the costs of a survey by the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships

Own this vessel?

If you are the owner of this vessel and would like to provide more details or updated information, please contact info@nationalhistoricships.org.uk