The Excelsior Trust was set up as a registered charity in 1983 to restore and maintain the historic Lowestoft sailing smack Excelsior and to promote sail training.  Excelsior is a National Historic Fleet vessel built in 1921 with a seasonal operational programme, largely focussing on youth development.  In addition, the Trust owns a number of other historic vessels: Horace and Hannah, a Yarmouth shrimper; City of Edinboro', a Hull sailing trawler of 1884; Estralita, an East Channel punt; and Concretian, a war-time ferro-concrete barge.

In 2000, the Trust purchased a redundant Lake Lothing shipyard as a permanent refit and operating base for Excelsior.   

Excelsior under sail

The yard is located adjacent to the International Boatbuilding Training College (IBTC) yard and offers larger scale shipwright tools and facilities including: two slipways capable of taking vessels up to 100 foot long; a launching ramp; a shipwright’s shop with a band saw, rip saw, thicknesser and wetstone; a steam chest; plate rollers and a mould loft.  

The slipways have been set up with the following capacities (on good Spring tides) but can be reconfigured for other jobs:

No. l Slip

Normally up to c. 100' LOA x 23' beam x 6' 6" draught for'ard x 13' draught aft (30 x 7 x 2 x 4m) x 250 tons displacement. Suitable for motor fishing vessels, sailing trawlers, very large yachts, tugs and commercial barges.

No. 2 Slip

Normally up to c. 55' LOA x 4' 6" draught for'ard x 9' draught aft (17 x 1.4 x 2.8m) x 80 tons displacement. Suitable for smaller motor fishing vessels, smacks, large yachts, water buses, lifeboats, wherries and pontoons.

Floodlighting, water, 110v, 240v, 415v, lock-up store, office, and extensive welding facilities are also available and the Trust is happy to hear from other heritage organisations wishing to use its facilities as part of the Shipshape East Anglia (SEA) hub.

Since its establishment almost thirty years ago, the Trust has developed wide-ranging expertise in areas such as: ship conservation; fundraising and promotion; sail training; ship yard & vessel management; and networking; and is happy to offer advice and guidance on these topics. 

Now, the Excelsior Trust is a charitable organisation that provides life changing sailing experiences for young and disadvantaged people, schools and corporate groups, as well as unique sailing opportunities for Individuals, all whilst preserving and maintaining one of the UK’s most historic ships.


Shipshape Heritage Training Project (SHTP) Partner

The Excelsior Trust is also one of National Historic Ships UK's project partners on the SHTP training scheme, hosting one of the five trainees each year.  For more about the scheme, please see the SHTP project page for this region.

News - April 2018: Refit Progress 2018 

Chiselling - refit work

As we take on the task of shaping and creating our new Bow Sprit, our skilled and Talented Crew have done a fabulous job of successfully taking on this task all in house.

Excelsior Trust logo