Heritage Lottery Fund press release
Freshspring Society achieves National Lottery support for historic steamship
The project to restore SS Freshspring, a rare historic steamship, has taken another major step forward. A £61,000 National Lottery grant has been awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The news comes less than 18 months since the Trust was awarded £155,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) to transport the ship from Newnham on Severn and berth her in Bideford.
Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the award is for a two year programme including works required to open the ship to the public as a heritage attraction. There will be a considerable emphasis on education from school age children to the general public. The grant includes funding to employ an Education and Project Officer.
SS Freshspring is remarkably complete – her hull and superstructure are substantially intact, whilst her steam engines are in outstanding condition due to the care given to them over time. With her pre-Second World War configuration, her form reflects the type of general cargo vessel that was the work-horse of the British and the Worlds mercantile fleets from the 1920s to the 1950s. The only other vessel of similar appearance and scale in the UK is SS Robin of 1890. Furthermore, the proposals to bring Freshspring back to operational condition for a sustainable future use whilst retaining her external form and sympathetically converting her internal water tank spaces mean that she will be the only operational vessel of this type. In the meantime, the proposals to present her afloat in Bideford as a static heritage exhibit mean that she will be the only vessel of her type and age accessible to the general public.
John Puddy, The Trust Chair stated, “ This is a huge step forward for the Trust, The National Lottery grant was substantially matched in Devon by Torridge District Council, Bideford Bridge Trust and The Balsdon Trust, demonstrating very considerable local support. In addition match funds have been awarded by The Headley Trust along with individual Trust Membership support. I thank all those in our team who worked so hard to make this such a successful project with a very bright future.”
Work will be starting on the restoration of the ship’s bridge, boatdeck and access shortly to ensure the ship can fully open for April 2018.