Dec 2010 – Update

Sovereign Repairs Continue

An infestation of beetle grubs was found in the upper forward frames, decking and bow planking of Sovereign.

Fred Crowell was able to remove the infected areas of timber and replace with new, a difficult task involving awkward scarfing of new timbers to old in very confined spaces.

The forward area is now free of grub problems and in sound condition.

November 2010

National Historic Ships supports Sovereign

Repairs to the Sovereign have been given support by the National Historic Ships Committee who have awarded an emergency sustainability grant. This enabled Fred Crowell to start repairs to the seriously deteriorated hull.

Once on Fred’s slipway, it was found that the spikes holding the planking onto the frames were badly corroded. Some had rusted away entirely leaving nothing to hold planks in place other than water pressure and the caulking. Several planks have now been entirely replaced, about 2000 spikes replaced, re-caulking undertaken and a lot of filling carried out, making Sovereign secure below the waterline.

Many thanks to National Historic Ships for contributing.DSC_0075

2 Responses to National Historic Ships supports Sovereign

  1. Jeff burns says:

    Hi Lads.
    It’s Jeff Burns of South Shields a well known friend of David Parker & Fred Crowell,I am currently at work offshore and have just heard that the “Sovereign” has been put back in the water if possible could you email me some photos of this occasion.

     2. cal boal says:

    I’m researching my family tree and I have traced a long line of Crowells living in south shields who were connected to boat building. Is Fred Crowell from the area?

August 2010

August 2010

note to admin – put the photos back in

Welcome to our August newsletter which is packed with NEMT’s latest information. Also please check the new headings of Soundings which looks at current and Waypoints for future developments.

It is always a pleasure to write about the progress and hard work made by our band of Friends and supporters who are so important to NEMT, without you, we would not exist.

Soundings – Boomerang Boat Museum

NEMT is proud to be associated with Australia and Norway, aiPotu and the unusual sight and shape of the boomerang boat which is now on show at Wapping Street. The Boomerang Boat was made at the 16th biennale of Sydney 2008 by artist duo aiPotu and consisting of the two Norwegian artists Andreas Siqueland and Anders Kjellesvik, who restored the boat and searched for a suitable home in Scotland, Wales and England including the Newcastle area. South Shields became a natural point of departure for them. Going by coast, a series of possibilities were investigated. But they just kept on coming back to North East Maritime Trust, a place ‘where we just love old boats’ and did not need much time before the Trust decided to take on the responsibility of creating a new home for the stranded vessel.

For more information about aiPotu, please visit

While the boat is definitely very unusual, it has a more serious, relevant history and build using traditional skills now in decline, even down-under.

Off to Hartlepool’s Tall Ships Festival, 6thAugust.

RD II has successfully undergone full restoration over the last year and looks wonderful in her traditional colours.

This Heritage Lottery funded project was also supported by International Paints with open days and public donations also helping to raise the crucial finance required. We wish to express thanks to everyone concerned.

A booklet outlining RD II’s full history and restoration is also available, just ask.

Funding for the trip to Hartlepool was provided by the Community Area Forum South Tyneside.

Shown from right to left; Rachel Douglas, Favourite and Royal Diadem II on their way to Hartlepool.

The North Shields Lowlights and Highlights are clearly shown almost in line and just above Royal Diadem II.

Tide and weather conditions created a very ‘interesting’ trip with a reasonable swell proving the value of well made traditional boats.

NEMT vessels were the only traditional working boats to represent Tyneside and Northumberland at this festival.

Royal Diadem II looking her best (Click on image to enlarge)

The festival was a great showcase for NEMT and we made full use of our position which was located at the marina near shops, cafes and a pub too. It is estimated that over five hundred people came along to admire our boats, ask questions and make donations. Royal Diadem created a great deal of interest with everyone including fishermen young and old, who gave us the benefit of their memories and history of local fishing traditions.

Our outward and return journey were each completed in about four hours with rather unsettled conditions to contend with. Rain and a big swell helped the tall ships away and us too, but that was no problem for our hardy sailors who took it all in their stride, after finding the end of rope!

Many thanks go to our Chairman Mr Peter Weightman and friends, for the inclusion of our associate boats

Favourite and Rachel Douglas at the festival (Click on image to enlarge) .


Education for young and not so young is a very important part of what we are doing at NEMT.

To take this forward, Tim West has approached over seventy local schools leaving booklets which give an overview of North East Maritime heritage and lifestyles. It also explains what we are about while emphasising the Royal Diadem11 and Henry Frederick Swan restoration projects.

Lifeboat ‘Henry Frederick Swan’ is about to take centre stage in our restoration program. This National Historic Ships registered vessel, which is included in the Historic Fleet Register number 2047 is important to our local maritime history. She is also recognised as the longest serving UK registered lifeboat and was one of the first self righting, sailing, pulling (rowing) and motor driven lifeboats of her time when put into service in 1917.

Work started before our current restoration projects and included the careful cataloguing, photographing and removal of hundreds of items, engine, fabric floatation boxes and fittings etc.

Internal and external cleaning of the hull which also included the removal of nearly 100 years worth of paint and grime was also essential, to allow Fred Crowell access for the preparation of a full condition survey. This has now been completed, ready for a costing survey to start in August.

Friends are central to NEMT’s success and very important to our healthy future. Progress, a busy workload and change of administration have all helped to delay our request for membership renewals this year. Therefore, we are changing the membership renewal date for Friends to the 1st October each year. This will be pro-rota for new members who join NEMT throughout the following year. The new ‘Friends’ secretary will be writing to all members in the near future.

For example, someone who joins NEMT Friends in April will pay just £5.00 until 1st October when the full £10 annual fee will apply.

We hope this new and simplified membership will help to streamline the membership scheme.

Also note that all Friends benefit from unrestricted access to events (with consideration to any health and safety issues being paramount) Learning to work with wood, special low cost workshop facilities (with agreement from NEMT board members) Newsletter, sail training and availability of certain craft, with agreement. You can also be confident that NEMT is promoting and maintaining the Northeast’s valuable maritime heritage, because “We Just Love Old Boats”

June 2010



Forthcoming Events Include:

18th to 20th June – Seahouses Festival, music and cultural events with Rachel Douglas and Favourite in the harbour.

9th July- St Abbs, where we plan to have Rachel Douglas and Favourite on display in the harbour.

10th July – Eyemouth Herring Queen Festival –  Rachel Douglas and Favourite again, this time following the Herring Queen on her journey from St Abbs, then spending the day at a hopefully accessible place in the harbour.

7th to 10th August – Tall Ships Hartlepool. We hope to be positioned at an accessible location to accept visitors to our vessels which are planned to include Royal Diadem II, Peggy, Rachel Douglas and Favourite

11th and 12th September – Heritage Open Days at our workshop in Wapping Street South Shields, including visiting heritage vessels tied up alongside Corporation Quay.


The next NEMT Restoration Project to get under way is the Henry Frederick Swan Ex Tynemouth RNLI Lifeboat built 1917.

Read about this important vessel under  “Boats”



  1. liam lenihan says:


    I was just looking for some information or help about going about trying to save a lifeboat that is in the training yard of a cadets training school in blackpool. This lifeboat was in blackpool in 1886 and was decommisioned in 1930. Its name is the samual fletcher of manchester and has some veary interesting history, i just think it should be brought back to its origional it server this area for over 44 years,

    liam lenihan


May 2010

Favourite Refurbished


Favourite has been in Fred Crowell’s boat shed for attention to a few defects and is back in prime condition, being launched again on 10th May. She has had attention to hull caulking, a damaged deck beam, a little new decking and repairs to her stem. Before leaving the slip a full external repaint was undertaken. A last little detail improvement has been the making and fitting of new nameboards by Fred. These followed the style of the boat’s builder, Walter Reekie.DSC_0027


Response to Favourite Refurbished
  1. Derek Smith says:

    Favourite made a fine sight in the intro to “A Journey back to Newcastle” on BBC4 9.30 Sunday 12/09/2010.

February 2010


Rachel Douglas spent the start of the year in Fred Crowell’s boatshed undergoing a spruce-up.

She has been rubbed down and given a full external repaint. Whilst in Fred’s the opportunity was taken to make good a length of suspect rubbing strake, the inwyvers were replaced and a number of other minor repairs undertaken.

She is back in top condition and ready to make appearances up and down the coast during 2010.

January 2010

Customs House Project

Coat for a Boat

Knitting and Stitching  Alexandra Palace 8th / 11th Oct

Not quite traditional but definitely a wooden boat. This snap of her was taken when we took her in bits along to the Customs House on April 4th to show the Coat for a Boat Knitters the progress we had made. It also served to give the boat builders confidence in that they had got the sizes of the sections about right to be able to install the finished boat without to much difficulty in May for the crew knitting the coat to be able to dress her in time for the exhibition in June.Friday 12th June

Opening launch night of the “Casting Off, A Coat For A Boat” exhibition in the Customs House Gallery. Every thing went very well and although the wood was now obscured by the knitting, She took on another beautiful, magical identity as Salma’s Dream!  Waiting patiently for the grand launch and maiden voyage into the River Tyne on Sunday 12th July.

Salma’s Dream in Gallery

NEMT Lads after Dressing The Boat!

Lowering into the River Tyne for Maiden Voyage

Not a stich came loose! A beautiful sail…Well done Lads

Next stop following a very sucessful stay at Customs House ………Alexandra Palace….Palm Court London!!!

November 2009

Sovereign Saved

SovreignMembers of NEMT have purchased Sovereign, which until February was the UK’s oldest working fishing boat. She was built in 1936 by Nobles of Fraserburgh and has been little altered since. Latterly she has been in the care of Keith Alexander who fished with her out of North Shields. Sovereign is a classic motor fishing boat of the middle of the twentieth century, a forty three footer with the beautiful hull shape developed for giving the manoeuvrability needed to work the ring net. The National Maritime Museum has placed her on the National Register of Historic Ships, certificate no.164.
At present Sovereign is berthed in St Peters alongside the restored fishing boats Rachel Douglas and Favourite but it is hoped that funds will soon be raised to get her onto the slipway for commencement of an authentic restoration.

1 Response to Sovereign Saved

  1. the fishing boat you are on about belonged to a man called chester woods and was moored at tyne dock years ago i believe he has passes on now grea little boat