Charity calls for Council support as Tall Ship arrives in the Albert Basin
15 May 2019 - by By Áine Quinn
The chairman of Silvery Lights Sailing, Gerry Brennan, has called on the Council to support the need for Newry’s maritime heritage to be recognised.
The charity’s mission is to restore Silvery Light - a 100ft heritage tall ship, which was built in Cornwall in 1884 and has been lying in disrepair at Newry Quays for many years.
A group of Trustees are currently managing the project and hoping to secure funding for £750,000 to completely restore the former fishing vessel to its former glory.
The charity has already secured a grant of £10,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Resilience Fund to commission a Project Business Plan and Strategy but it now seeks further funding through investors.
Mr Brennan voiced his disappointment at the Council’s lack of support for the charity.
“Here is an organisation that is interested in preserving maritime heritage, trying to restore a fishing boat of the type that was one very common in and around Kilkeel and Ardglass,” Mr Brennan told the Reporter.
“We are trying to do something in the modern age involving young people sailing, but there is no Council support.
“We are trying to regain the use of the Albert Basin as a maritime hub for boats.”
In November 2018, the Reporter highlighted Kilkeel-woman Lorraine Fox’s disappointment at the Council after she waited over four years for a trading license.
She spoke of how she brought her boat – The Sandwich Barge – to Newry after running it successfully in London, however, she was told by the Council: “The civic realm area adjacent to the Newry Canal and Albert Basin is not a designated street trading area.”
Silvery Light Sailing has now secured the Volharding on a long-term lease to try and raise awareness for the need for such a vessel to secure links with the city’s maritime heritage.
The Volharding and its crew of six volunteers and two experienced sailors arrived in its new home at Albert Basin on Wednesday after its 12-day voyage from Essex across the North Sea, English Channel and the Irish Sea.
The charity is hoping that if the Council sees the benefits of having the tall-ship in Newry, they will get on-board with the project.
“Not only are we bringing a ship which we can illuminate in the winter months or use as a unique meeting place or community centre,” Mr Brennan told the Reporter.
“But in the summer, we will take it out to all of the ports in the Council area. This is all part of the maritime community life around the Council area but there is no support or direction from the Council.”
The charity will run traditional skills, sail training and community maritime-based activities using the Tall Ship.
One of the charity’s directors, Paul Gibson, told the Reporter: “The idea is to take disadvantaged youths out on sailing programmes “This will take them out of their environment and they can take part in team building and give them a different environment to what they are currently in.
“Some of the kids we have had before have never seen the sea if you can believe it.
“The intention is not to make sailors out of anyone, but to give them a sense of community, team building, empowerment by trying out new tasks within a team environment
“We already have two groups of ten from a cross border initiative paid by Peace 4 funding, booked in for sail training on the Volharding.”
The Reporter asked the Council for a comment, but had not received a response at time of going to press. To become involved in The Silvery Light Project call 07968 992 647 or visit www.silverylight.orgTo read more subscribe to our online Newspaper