Historic SS Robin Could Be On Scrap Heap By Christmas Says Trust

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 12 February 2008
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an aerial picture of a ship docked next to two large dock cranes taken from a baove

The SS Robin in its current berth at Canary Wharf. © SS Robin Trust

The SS Robin, one of just three recognised historic ships in London, is facing the scrap heap unless the trust that looks after it can raise £3 million in just six months.

One of London’s best kept secrets, the SS Robin is currently moored in the heart of Canary Wharf in London’s Historic Docklands and is one of only three ships in London’s core collection – the nautical equivalent of a Grade I listed building, alongside Cutty Sark and HMS Belfast.

However the SS Robin Trust says the historic Victorian steamer is facing an uncertain future with its current berth under threat from a new Crossrail development planned for the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf.

a photograph of a ship with the name Robin on its bow

© SS Robin Trust

This, they say, could see it making its final voyage to the breaker’s yard and it has therefore launched a final push to try and raise the money to save her.

“For Robin to survive we need to secure this money urgently,” said SS Robin Trust Project Director and co-founder David Kampfner. “It really is make or break time, as without funding this historic ship could be razor blades by Christmas.”

The Trust is currently applying for a £2m Heritage Lottery grant and must raise £1m match funding to secure the future of the irreplaceable example of Victorian engineering.

a colour picture of an iron clad ship docked before a large building

© SS Robin Trust

“We’re launching this campaign because 2008 is the last year to save Robin for future generations,” added Mr Kampfner.

Built in Bow Creek in 1890 at the height of the Victorian industrial revolution the Robin is the last remaining steamcoaster in the world still boasting its original steam engine, lifeboats, funnel, masts and winches.

For over half a century steamships like the SS Robin were the workhorses of trade and commerce, ferrying cargoes like coal and iron ore between seaports in Britain and the continent.

Black and white photo of a steamship on a river

© SS Robin Trust

In 1974 the Maritime Trust saved SS Robin from the breaker's yard and she eventually settled in West India Dock where she steadily fell into disrepair until given a new lease of life in 2002, when she came under the ownership of the SS Robin Trust.

For the last five years the venerable old steamcoaster has functioned as a leading arts and heritage centre and a venue for temporary art exhibitions.

For more information and details of the SS Robin Trust campaign and to sign a petition to help save the historic ship visit www.ssrobin.org.

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