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New home sought for floating museum

PUBLISHED: 20:06 25 April 2008 | UPDATED: 20:14 05 July 2010

WAVENEY'S unique floating museums urgently need a new home.

The Lydia Eva and Mincarlo Trust, which has previously attracted over 30,000 visitors in a season to two historic fishing craft, needs a new base by the end of May.

WAVENEY'S unique floating museums urgently need a new home.

The Lydia Eva and Mincarlo Trust, which has previously attracted over 30,000 visitors in a season to two historic fishing craft, needs a new base by the end of May.

For some years in winter the two ships have been laid up at Excelsior Wharf, at the end of Riverside Road, Lowestoft, on an ongoing temporary basis where the volunteers work throughout the winter on painting and maintenance.

The Trust also has a number of essential storage containers, a portable building and two historical fish merchant's huts awaiting restoration among other heritage items.

This site, which is now being redeveloped, was considered ideal as a winter working base for the trust while the ships were restored and maintained.

“It is easy to find, has plenty of space, reasonable quay heading for mooring, reasonable security, and operations there do not inconvenience any other body,” said Christine Monkhouse, on behalf of the Trust.

The two free-entry museum ships rotate summer moorings in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth. It's hoped the Lydia Eva will be able to leave Lowestoft under her own steam this summer and be greeted the same way in Great Yarmouth. The following year she will be in Lowestoft and the Mincarlo will go to Great Yarmouth. The vessels have previously proven to be Waveney's best-attended museums.

This is a tremendous success story and the need to find new facilities for these ships is vital.

The Trust needs help now - primarily from the local maritime community.

These two ships are real and bold symbols of the region's once great fishing industry - a part of this district's diverse heritage.

The ships have justly received £1m in public money from various sources, especially the Heritage Lottery Fund, so it is essential that the ships can be eventually prominently seen year round by the public.

Waveney District Council has offered year round moorings on Heritage Quay, even when undergoing regular maintenance which could be part of the attraction - albeit obviously there would be times when they will need dry-docking or significant maintenance elsewhere. However, this location currently does not offer the required technical back-up storage space in the immediate vicinity.

Funding has previously been given to the Trust by Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils, Waveney District Council and Great Yarmouth Borough Council. The Trust has some financial resources available for location rental.

The Lydia Eva, the last steam drifter, is now completing major restoration and is recognised by

the National Historic Ships' Committee as one of the 60 most important ships in the UK, along with vessels such as the Cutty

Sark, Great Britain and Warrior.

Within the local area there are only two further historic fishing vessels - the Mincarlo, also owned by the Trust, moored and open to the public throughout last summer on Heritage Quay by South Pier, and the regularly seagoing Excelsior, based up river in Oulton Broad.

As a result of the Trust's efforts most of the £1m of funding raised has been spent in the local economy; a local shipyard has reconditioned its slipway which is now available for use in other restoration projects; the Heritage Lottery Fund intends to use the project as a case study on their website; a programme of educational development with local schools, colleges, and other adult groups has been set in train; more volunteers are being recruited to help guide visitors; 30,000 visitors come on board one or other of the ships each year

All this has been achieved with no paid staff, minimal funding from local authorities and a great deal of hard work and enthusiasm from many volunteers.

To enable the work to continue it is vital that the trust can source a working base for the two ships to be safe, for the volunteers to meet and network, and for group visits to take place throughout the year.

The Trust has an ideal list of facilities and technical requirements but is keen to negotiate all terms wherever suitable as fast as possible.

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