We are still researching her full history but we currently believe that she was built in 1901 and is in “The Historic Fleet of the United Kingdom” certificate number 1858. She has been a fishing boat, a camera platform for filming The Onedin Line, a sewage tracker and a training vessel.
Our aim is to restore and maintain the Willdora something close to her perceived 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 Panne in 1940. The Willdora alone is said to be responsible for saving the lives of over 200 soldiers and to have been shelled and sunk at Dunkirk. After remaining there for five years or so she was recovered after the war by one of the soldiers who was saved by her who had links to Sunderland..
After various uses on the Wear & the Tyne she spent nearly a decade up on the dockside at Sunderland being extensively refurbished by us and was launched back into the water in 2018 to take part in Tall Ships events.
We are continually working on her refurbishment and were doing very well until she unfortunately broke down during a recent test run at sea and had to be towed back to her berth by a local heritage lifeboat!
This appeal is for the funds needed to effect the repairs to her systems to have her sailing again and also for the ongoing maintenance that the old lady constantly needs to keep her in top condition – like painting, recaulking, bottom scraping (!) and any upgrades as required by changing MCA regulations.
Please give what you can to get her back afloat and sailing again. Thank you.
- Ken Smith
- Ian Davison
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