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Second yard reunion is arranged

PUBLISHED: 10:44 25 September 2009 | UPDATED: 14:12 06 July 2010

Princess Anne launching the Caledonian Isles from Richards Shipbuilders on May 25, 1993

Princess Anne launching the Caledonian Isles from Richards Shipbuilders on May 25, 1993

ON the week that the Princess Royal paid a visit to Lowestoft, a former employee of Richards Shipbuilders sent in a photograph showing a previous visit of hers to the town.

Employees at Richards Shipyard Foundry on October 1, 1959

ON the week that the Princess Royal paid a visit to Lowestoft, a former employee of Richards Shipbuilders sent in a photograph showing a previous visit of hers to the town.

Princess Anne was in Lowestoft in 1993 when she helped to launch the Caledonian Isles. The ship, which is one of the largest ships in the Caledonian MacBrayne fleet, was launched on May 25, 1993, before it was sent off to Scotland where it serves the Isle of Arran.

Unfortunately, the 5,221-tonne, 94 metre, vessel would be the last to launch from Richards Shipbuilders in Lowestoft, as the shipyard shut its doors in 1994.

For more than a century it had stood on the banks of Lake Lothing, with employees helping to build hundreds of vessels that would take to seas across the globe.

Little could founder Samuel Richards have imagined the impact that his business would go on to have when he arrived in Lowestoft in 1876.

His yard would help employ countless local people over the years, as the business built a reputation for high quality craftsmanship.

Last year, former employee David Dyer organised a reunion for some of his fellow ex-colleagues, family and friends, and now he is doing it again.

Nearly 100 people gathered together to reminisce with memorabilia and a film presentation, and Mr Dyer hopes to repeat this success.

“An evening not to be missed as this may be the lat chance for the foreseeable future to meet up with old workmates again. The evening will be open to anyone who would like to attend, friends, family or if you just have an interest in the firm,” he said.

“I hope that employees of the Great Yarmouth yard past and present will come along and that of Harvey, Wilson and Osbourne that used to be alongside Richards Iron Works, until they finally joined forces, and of course Fellows, of Great Yarmouth, that had a similar outcome all coming under the name of Richards to become a formidable player in the shipbuilding industry.”

The reunion is to take place at the Orbis Energy Centre, at 6.30pm on Friday, November 13. It will feature memorabilia and a film presentation, including previously unseen footage of the launch of the Caledonian Isles.

“It is uncanny to think that such comprehensive film of all aspects of the building of this ship was taken not knowing that this was sadly to be the last ship to slip gracefully into the waters of Lake Lothing,” said Mr Dyer.

Tickets are £10 with proceeds going to the Lowestoft Maritime Heritage Fund. For a ticket send a cheque made payable to the Lowestoft Maritime Heritage Fund with a stamped self-addressed envelope to David Dyer, c/o Richards Dry Dock, Southtown Road, Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, NR31 0JJ.

For more details call 01502 589050 or email davidjdyerstuffed@tiscali.co.uk

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