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Plans for Freshspring

The primary aim of the Steamship Freshspring Society is to preserve, reconstruct and operate for the education and benefit of the public, the historic vessel SS Freshspring, retaining its unique character through sustainable commercial, industrial, leisure, tourism and educational developments that reflect the longstanding maritime history of Bideford.

The long-term vision for Freshspring is to use her to provide a public academic and practical educational resource, with particular emphasis on young people, inspiring in them to enter the maritime world, becoming engineers and seafarers of the future. To ensure financial sustainability, we will operate coastal cruising holidays for up to twelve passengers offering a range of quality cruises around the coast of the United Kingdom. Once cruising, SS Freshspring will visit a range of locations where she will be open to the general public and school groups for educational visits. Short cruises will be offered in sheltered waters for large numbers of people making the ship available to all. The education work of the trust will be rolled out nationally, with schools in the region of visited ports engaging in the education projects.


What we need to do now;

Freshspring was moved (July 2016) from her former berth on the River Severn to Sharpness drydock and then later onto our more secure and publicly accessible berth in Bideford. Torridge District Council granted this long term berth in Bideford, North Devon, a high profile maritime town. At the drydock, essential doubling plates were welded to the hull befrore being repainted and surveyed in order for the regulatory authorities (Maritime Coastguard Agency) to allow her to be towed from the sheltered waters of the River Severn. The work in dock prepared the ship for safe static use in Bideford.

Following this, the preferred route to fund the complete restoration is with assistance from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). Trust members have been working hard to create a sound application. If we are successful, we will need to secure match funding for the initial development phase. In addition this phase will encompass all of the preparatory works required before any further physical works start on the ship in the delivery phase, including the employment of a naval architect, audience development consultant, creation of an activity plan and further development of the business plan.


What we have been doing;

To fulfil the essential educational aims of the Trust, we are working with Universities, STEM (Science, Technology engineering and Maths) advisors, education practitioners and businesses to bring into effect a maritime education strategy from Primary School through to University that, hopefully, will result in work placements, apprenticeships and full time employment. This is intended to build a career ladder for the maritime sector. There is an urgent international shortage of maritime staff and we are doing all we can to encourage youngsters in North Devon to consider a maritime-based career. Research carried out by the Charity, Seafarers UK shows that 70% of 16 to 24 year olds had never considered a career at sea. Only 2% said they had been given careers advice about the maritime industry, compared to professional services (18%), science and engineering (21%), health sector (19%), retail (14%), construction (8%), uniformed public service (13%), the media (18%) and catering (8%). When asked which of those career choices offered good prospects only 5% picked the maritime industry. With UK leaving the EU the shortages in maritime will become even more critical.


Projects underway include:

  • An engineering ‘Box Project’ funded by University of the West of England (UWE) This project is using a combination of mechanical equipment and lesson plans to inspire young people into engineering at an early age
  • Dissemination of information and advice about maritime careers in conjunction with other agencies and maritime charities.
  • Discussions about installing ship simulation equipment for training purposes on the new bridge are being held with UWE, London Nautical School, Transas (software provider) and Highbury College (Portsmouth).
  • We will support the launch of a BTEC in Maritime Studies developed by London Nautical School with local colleges.

Some other organisations supporting our efforts include:

  • Jobs in Maritime – Seagoing and Shore-side careers
  • Nautilus International – Merchant Navy Trade Union
  • PETROC College, Barnstaple
  • Bideford Sea Cadets
  • Integer

All the Society’s work is carried out on a not-for-profit basis and our partners are encouraged to operate in a similar fashion ensuring maximum benefit from funds.


How you can help;

We are keen to receive any funds to enable the next stages that will bring Freshspring back into operational condition. From educational establishments we wish to make further connections for mutual benefit and collaborations. New volunteers are always welcomed with many ways to volunteer whatever your interests, wherever in the world you are based.