One of our major projects is the Motorised Fishing Vessel Willdora.
We are still researching her full history but what we know that she was built in 1901 and is included in “The Historic Fleet of the United Kingdom” certificate number 1858, issued on the 30th August 2001. The vessel has links with Sunderland as it was brought to the City by Sunderland Council in the 1970’s as a maritime project for Hylton Redhouse comprehensive school.
She has, among other functions in her long career, been a fishing boat, served as a camera platform for filming The Onedin Line, and been used as a training vessel.
But our aim is to restore and maintain the Willdora in something close to her 1940s form – a Dunkirk little ship and a veteran of Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of 350,000 allied troops from the beaches of Dunkirk and Le Pann in 1940. The Willdora alone was responsible for saving the lives of over 200 soldiers, one of which lived in Sunderland.
.She was shelled and sunk at Dunkirk and after remaining there for five years or so was recovered after the war by one of the soldiers who was saved by her.
She then spent nearly a decade up on the dockside at Sunderland, being extensively refurbished by us – with considerable help from C-TEC, one of our sponsors.
Getting her back in the water was a bit nerve-wracking, but she floated.
She is now seaworthy, and took to the waves as part of the parade at the Tall Ships event in Sunderland 2018 – see image above.
A re-visit to Dunkirk is planned – we had hoped for the 80th anniversary in 2020 but COVID-19 scuppered that – so maybe in 2025.
Upon completion of the project we hope she can be made available for site visits and – weather and tides permitting – actual river trips on the vessel.
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