Friday, 12 February 2016

The Hearts of Oak - "How the dream came true"


ULVERSTON was once a centre for shipbuilding and had a nationwide reputation for strong, well-built schooners until its trade was eclipsed by the Barrow shipyards.

  • The Hearts of Oak was built by John Randall (Dan) McLester in 1912. She was built for Peter Butler, then Guide to the Sands, and Dan was landlord of the Bay Horse at Canal Foot. Following the death of Mr Butler, she was bought by the Ironworks to use as a pilot boat in the bay, but following closure of the works in 1938, now renamed Barbara, she sailed away to Millom to continue the same job there.
  • In the autumn of 1980, Jennifer Snell, now chairman of the Hearts of Oak Boat Trust, decided to try and find the old boat, and found information, but no boat, at Haverigg. Some time later, she found the boat in a very dilapidated condition in Maryport Harbour.
  • It was restored but then moved on to Liverpool, then to Conway and then Northern Ireland, where she was not used and deteriorated again.
  • Out of the blue, in 2000, the owner emailed the Ulverston Heritage Centre asking if they would like a boat, and the offer was immediately accepted.
  • Temporarily unseaworthy, she had to be transported back to Ulverston, where she was stored by Glaxo until funds could be found to fully restore her. At the same time the group was offered her old engine - and the dream came true.
  • A lottery grant allowed full restoration to take place and she was relaunched at Port Penrhyn in June last year.

General info:

THE Hearts of Oak - the last remaining vessel built in Ulverston - finally sailed home to Furness in July 2008 after a 30-year campaign.

The Morecambe Bay prawner took up her new mooring at Roa Island after being on the brink of oblivion a decade ago.

The 324-foot classic boat was built in 1912 and was restored in North Wales between 2005 and 2008 with the help of a £49,500 Heritage Lottery grant.

Jennifer Snell, chairman of the Hearts of Oak Boat Trust, said in 2008: “For me, it’s a dream come true. Ten years ago, she was almost firewood but now she’s magnificent.

“It’s been a 30-year-long quest to bring this boat back home - the trustees and members of the Hearts of Oak Boat Trust have worked so hard and now we’ve done it."

Hearts of Oak was used as a pilot boat for Ulverston Ironworks before being transferred to Millom Ironworks in 1938 when the Ulverston works closed down.

Serving as a pilot boat until Millom Ironworks shut down, she was used for sailing out to cargo vessels to bring them into the pier, where they would be loaded with pig iron.

Skippered by Alec Mellon and assisted by Jack Taylor, she also played her part in the Second World War effort serving as the area’s Air Sea Rescue boat.

Sailed by Mr Mellon - a founding member of Haverigg Inshore Rescue Team in 1973 - she saved the lives of many airmen who ditched in the Duddon Estuary, most of whom were young trainees flying in and out of nearby landing spots in British multi-role Avro Ansons and other aircraft.

Hearts of Oak remained in the Millom area for almost 20 years, during which time she took lots of youngsters out to sea on short jaunts.

The boat was then taken to Askam in about 1956 when she was bought by Dennis Brown.



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