December 2010

December 2010



NEMT has continued to celebrate its partnership with the Customs House by setting up an extra attraction at this year’s Knitted Victorian Christmas show which then moved to a Harrogate Show on 25 to 28-November. This included making the basic frames, a sleigh, fully working grandfather clock (which kept perfect time) and reindeers. Also included was the making of wooden plinths, numerous stretcher frames and setting up of the South Shields gallery shows “Grand Tour” of Salma’s Dream.

The knitters had formed their own group called ‘The Materialistics’ and NEMT was well represented too, with prime position given in the foyer of the grand hall. On Sunday when it was time to pack up, the snow started and there was about 4inches in a couple of hours. Everything was grid locked and Harrogate had come to a halt. In fact we were even offering hire of the sleigh to get home!! Everything had to be broken down and carried across a main road through the traffic and snow to our van which was driven by Tim West. It was an epic journey home….what should have taken 2hrs became 5 and a half. The Sleigh and Santa then had to be reinstalled into the Customs House shop the next morning and it’s on show there till next year.

shedrepairProperty Repairs – Not the most popular of jobs, but everything else depends on keeping the workshop in good condition. The roof gutters have been in very poor condition for a long time but Tim West and Arthur Hamilton have been leading on overdue repairs. This follows work which was carried out a couple of years ago to seal leaks but time had taken its toll. Tim and Arthur have now removed the troublesome old sheet metal rainwater goods, which have been replaced with new plastic materials fixed in time for the winter weather (good timing).

Henry Frederick Swan

hfs_after_liftWork continues, with a lot of unseen work going on. Tim West has been preparing extensive administration and planning schedules of the work, seeking potential suppliers, estimating the time needed and finally looking at where to source the funds required. Arthur Hamilton has been checking the list of steelwork looking into material costs and getting estimates.

One outcome has been the production of a very smart fundraising leaflet to inform everyone of our scheme. We hope this will encourage the public to put their hands in their pockets and help finance the project. Tim’s document will also act as an introductory piece when approaching grant providing bodies.

The rudder was recently stripped down and then the stern whaleback removed. The latter was a difficult job as it had been built in situ and the fixings could not be withdrawn without damaging the planking, so all screws and nails had to be cut through between the faces of adjacent timbers, a very slow and careful task. This was completed successfully so that the whole unit is now on the workshop floor. The drop keel housing and keel were also removed, hard and heavy work.

CB1Brian Fenwick has continued with the work of stripping out and cleaning the inside of the hull, carefully removing defective components for manufacture of replacements. Work started under the forward deck and has continued back to the fuel tank area. This is no easy job, being very confined in places – far from comfortable – but necessary.

Removing the drop keel housing and keel

Spring Tide

springtideapronCharlie Lowdon and Peter Waugh have been concentrating their efforts on replacing defective timber on Spring Tide. The keel has been removed so that some bottom planks can be replaced and new timber has been inserted in the lower stem. This little salmon rowing boat from Whitburn is rapidly progressing towards a successful completion of the woodwork element.

Sovereign News

SovreignSovereign entered Fred Crowell’s boat shed (next door to ours) in the summer and extensive restoration work has been undertaken in the last few months.

Work started with the hull which suffered from loosening of planks. The keel was found to be flexing at a scarf joint, causing a lot of movement over a large area. This has now been repaired and the whole keel fitted with steel bottom and side plates. The rotten rudder shaft has had to be replaced. The hull planking has been re-nailed with nearly 2000 new spikes, several planks replaced, joints caulked and filled. The tops of frames near the stem suffered from worm infestation and new ends have been scarfed on. Damaged areas of deck have been replaced. The old engine has been removed for replacement by a newly overhauled one of the same type (a Gardner 6LW). The gearbox off the old engine has been dismantled for reassembly onto the replacement; quite an extensive job and nothing like the simple arrangement on an automotive application. New fuel tanks have been manufactured to replace the old leaking ones.

The above is just a very brief description of the work that has been done to bring the vessel back to good order and more is to be done over the winter.

The project has been hampered by the failure to secure an expected grant from one of our national organisations. Fred has gone to great lengths to find ways of making the job achievable in spite of major funding problems. Materials and methods have been changed to make the works possible with the minimum impact on quality or appearance.

Fortunately the National Historic Ships Committee contributed an emergency sustainability grant for the hull work and the Port of Tyne Fund came to the rescue with sponsorship to make it possible for the boat to work again by supporting the engine replacement. Beyond these supporters, the vessel has relied on funding from the trustees of the Northumbrian Fishing Heritage Trust, who are all NEMT members. It is hoped that Sovereign will be ready to tour events before the summer of 2011.

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!!!