Ireland's sailing, boating & maritime magazine

Vintage Brixham Trawler 'Leader' Acquired by Northern Ireland's Silvery Light Maritime Heritage Charity

17th March 2022
The 1892-built Heritage Tall Ship Leader will arrive in Northern Ireland this month
The 1892-built Heritage Tall Ship Leader will arrive in Northern Ireland this month

Silvery Light Sailing is Northern Ireland’s only Maritime Heritage Community Boatworks and Sail Training Charity and it has just been awarded a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £244,975 for the acquisition of the 1892-built Heritage Tall Ship Leader and a further expansion of their traditional boat building skills workshop and community sailing programmes.

The 130-year-old Brixham trawler will sail into Newry in south County Down where the charity is based, in the coming weeks.

She was built in for William Robbens by the yard of A W Gibbs at Galmpton Creek on the River Dart, two miles from Brixham.

The funding for the Summer 2022 Maritime Heritage Project has been made possible by National Lottery players who raise more than £30 million every week for good causes in the UK. The project opens a new chapter in the history of the LEADER, a survivor of the fleets of sailing fishing boat that once fished in the Irish Sea. The Heritage vessel is again destined to become a familiar sight in Northern Ireland’s ports providing a unique sailing experience for local youth and community groups, public open days and festivals. Maintained and crewed by volunteers, the project will help preserve an important link to the area’s rich maritime and fishing past.

The Silvery Light Sailing Community WorkshopThe Silvery Light Sailing Community Workshop

Gerry Brennan, Chair of Silvery Light Sailing is excited to get this project off the ground: “We are a maritime charity providing an annual programme of residential voyages that give youth and community groups from across Northern Ireland an opportunity to experience and benefit from a taste of life at sea on a traditional sailing ship. For many, it can be a life-changing, challenging experience, discovering new strengths and self-confidence whilst making lasting friendships”

Ten community and youth groups from across Northern Ireland will follow a programme of heritage workshop skills and a five-day residential voyage. They will form the crew sailing the ship using the power of the wind, learning about the traditions of the sea, how to cook, clean, maintain and care for both themselves and the heritage vessel.

Dr Paul Mullan, Director, Northern Ireland at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “It is fantastic news that, thanks to the National Lottery players, we have been able to support Silvery Light Sailing to ensure that this amazing heritage tall ship can be preserved for years to come, meaning that local communities and visitors can learn more about Northern Ireland’s maritime heritage. We know that heritage can play a huge role in bringing people together and the community sailing programmes that will be accessed by groups engaging with maritime heritage for the first time is a fantastic example of that.”

Leader was built as a sailing trawler. Uniquely during each voyage, crews will undertake sea sampling experiments using mini trawling methods to determine the level of microplastic pollution around our coastline.

Through community workshops, Silvery Light Sailing practice traditional skills and methods for the maintenance of Tall Ships like LEADER and the restoration of several smaller heritage boats which have a local connection. This new National Lottery funded project has not only secured an important part of Northern Ireland’s maritime heritage but allows for the expansion of workshop activities and the opportunity to bring in more volunteers.

Silvery Light Sailing welcomes new volunteers and for information on available opportunities to volunteer as a crew member or to learn about boat restoration.

News of future public events and opportunities to board Leader will be available shortly.

One of the more recent refurbishment projects carried out by Silvery Light Sailing was the restoration of the MV Joyce, a 40-foot naval Torpedo Recovery Boat used during World War 11 on Lough Neagh. 

Leader should arrive in Newry around 29 March 2022.

Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong

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Betty Armstrong is Afloat and Yachting Life's Northern Ireland Correspondent. Betty grew up racing dinghies but now sails a more sedate Dehler 36 around County Down

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