England

'Oldest' steamship heads for new home on Thames

SS Robin
Image caption SS Robin, built in 1890, is thought to be the last remaining steamcoaster in the world

A ship, thought to be the last steamcoaster in the world, is preparing to head to her new home after a £1.9m restoration in Suffolk.

The 300-tonne SS Robin was due to Lowestoft for the Port of Tilbury on Sunday but was delayed by the weather.

She is now expected to leave Suffolk as soon as the forecast improves.

The steamcoaster, built in 1890 and listed on the National Historic Fleet register, has been converted into a floating museum.

She will stay at the Port of Tilbury for up to a year while a decision is made on her London base.

The SS Robin was taken to Lowestoft in 2008 to undergo conservation work and repairs to her riveted structure. The work has been funded by Crossrail.

Project management consultants Kampfner Limited led a team of East Anglian and London-based marine consultants, engineers, naval architects and shipwrights in the two-year restoration project.

Image caption The ship has been transformed into a floating museum to be based on the Thames

SS Robin project director, David Kampfner, said: "The ambitious, world-first concept which has been created for SS Robin displays the entire ship to the world for the first time."

Perry Glading, managing director of the Port of Tilbury, said: "The Port of Tilbury was open for business in 1886, just four years before the SS Robin was launched, and both have made an important contribution to the history of industrial entrepreneurship that made this country so successful.

"Shipping remains vital to our economy and as London's major port Tilbury continues to have a crucial role in boosting the capital's economy.

"This is a great opportunity for us to have the SS Robin at Tilbury and to play our part in ensuring this vessel is able to continue to make her own contribution capital's economy by bringing the history of merchant shipping alive for future generations."

London's Mayor Boris Johnson voiced his support for the project, saying: "History is immensely important and I can think of no better way of learning than aboard a floating museum, packed with interesting facts and hidden treasures."

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