To restore and maintain the Willdora, 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.


The Willdora 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.



The vessel has had several restoration attempts in the past, carried out unfortunately by well-meaning, unqualified people who could not complete the work and in part, may have made the condition worse. Sunderland Maritime Heritage wishes to finally restore the Willdora as near as is practical to its original build specification, then to maintain the vessel as an interactive floating museum, promoting the aims of Sunderland Maritime Heritage, as well as preserving a piece of the nation’s history.


Upon completion of the project, the Willdora will be available to schools and educational establishments for site visits and weather and tides permitting, actual river trips on the vessel. We aim to design the deck and cabin access to allow disabled persons to the have the opportunity to visit this piece of living history.


© Sunderland Maritime Heritage, registered charity in England and Wales (1089465)