Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Return of the Robin

Robin at West India Quay before restoration
Working under the Spanish flag as 'Maria'
The worlds oldest complete steamship, the ss Robin was returned to London in July last year to the Royal Victoria dock on a floating pontoon, where the last parts of her restoration will be completed hopefully in time for the Olympics, not that she will be running in anything!
She spent some time at St.Katherine's dock and years at  West India Quay under the shadow of preserved dockyard cranes of the past near the DLR station.
In 2008 she was taken up to Lowestoft for restoration. 
She was launched in 1890 at Blackwall in London not so far from where she has been returned. She is one of three core collection Historic ships in London, the other two are Cutty Sark and HMS Belfast, both of which I've already written about here.
Like Cutty Sark she was built to a standard far above the norm, in this case to 100A1 steel ..put simply the very best. She also, like Cutty Sark many years with Iberian ship owners who clearly keep things going longer than us. Her boiler by the way is Scottish, she was towed oop narth to Dundee to have those fitted. I don't ever remeber going to sea in a ship that didn't have a Scottish engineer aboard.
She didn't spend too much time under the British flag though, she was sold to a Spanish company in 1900 and stayed a working vessel until 1974...that is just about incredible.
She was saved from the scrapyard for restoration though, and the Robin Trust have a really good website all about her life and times .... The Robin Trust
I'm planning a painting of this ship but some research will be needed as her appearance changed here and there over the years, I don't want to mess that up!
I'm really looking forward to her opening up to the public.