Historic Lowestoft trawler is restored for anniversary

The masts are being installed by AKD engineering. Picture: James Bass

The masts are being installed by AKD engineering. Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

The last surviving fishing vessel built and containing an engine made in Lowestoft is being restored to mark the 60th anniversary of the company which built it.

One of two new masts being installed on the historic boat Mincarlo. Picture: James Bass

One of two new masts being installed on the historic boat Mincarlo. Picture: James Bass - Credit: James Bass

The Mincarlo sidewinder was engined by AKD Engineering in 1961.

The company has now agreed to install two masts - the main and the Mizzen Mast - after the Lydia Eva and Mincarlo Charitable Trust called for it to be put back to its former glory following a public appeal.

New ladders have been also been put on the original masts, which have been re-plastered and painted, helping to keep the vessel open to the public after the rusting mast had become dangerous.

Mark Waltham, vice-chairman for the trust, who got in touch with AKD managing director Andrew Quayle after the company put out an appeal for an engine built by the company, said: 'AKD advertised at the beginning of last year looking for a project for their apprentices because of their 60th anniversary.

'They asked me what's the most urgent thing that needed doing was and it was definitely the mast, as they have the biggest impact.

'We still need support from the general public as last year, between the two ships, we had 30,000 visitors and £16,000 in donations, which is about 50p a head.'

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Karl Pull, production manager at AKD Engineering, is keen to restore the Mincarlo to its former glory.

'It is good for us to give something back to the trust and it has been a real pleasure to be part of it,' he said.

'We have tried to make it user-friendly, as it is now designed to have visitors on there.

'We have had great input from other companies including Speedy Hire, Seletar Signs, Fendercare, Coastground and Wavetrade, who have all done work free of charge.

'In the next week and a half hopefully, the vessel will be towed back up to the quay next to south pier and the main progression is to get it into gear and maybe up and running - so it's not only a museum, but also runs trips to sea.'

Alan Bagley, ships manager for the Mincarlo, added: 'This mast could never be repaired by the volunteers, so it was agreed that AKD would repair the mast and re-install it for their anniversary project.

'While the repair was being undertaken, a number of small works also took place such as the Mizzen mast installation and the loading of the small boat and the ballasting of the fore peak.

'The repair of the mast will be seen as a statement to visitors that the Mincarlo is not being neglected as will continue to collect donations to display the ship on a continuous basis, run entirely by volunteers.'

The Mincarlo was launched at Brooke Marine's yard in September 1961 and cost £75,600 to build for W H Podd.

She served as a trawler for 13 years as part of Lowestoft's 60-strong fishing fleet before becoming a rig standby vessel.

In 1977, The Mincarlo was converted and began a new career as a stand-by vessel in the southern North Sea gas fields. She was also renamed the Putford Merlin.

In 1989, she was finally replaced and was laid-up back where she began life - at the yard of Brooke's. After her working life had finished she was sold by Putford Enterprise to the Lydia Eva Trust, who paid a nominal £1 to Putford.

What are your memories of the Mincarlo? Email joe.randlesome@archant.co.uk