2004 Mid Year Update

Date Posted: June 17, 2004

from Peter Harrold

I am very pleased to be able to report from a far more positive prospective, and in particular the contentious issue regarding ownership has been resolved. The project can now move forward at a rate of knots and is indeed gathering speed (fortunately we are not restricted by 3 mph limit we will be facing when eventually on the water!).

Public support and media interest in the project remains strong. The heritage lottery fund have confirmed verbally that they remain interested in supporting the project as it meets all the necessary criteria for a successful grant application, but they could not look at an application until the ownership issue is resolved.

The trustee’s options were as follows:-

  1. Initiate court action to prove our title.
  2. Allow DL to take possession of the boat (which he may not pursue).

This would effectively mean abandoning the project and returning funds raised to donors.
John Morgan, our solicitor trustee who has been providing a tremendous amount of assistance free of charge, estimated that our costs, including barrister’s fees would be a minimum of 7,000 pounds. This would use up the vast majority of the funds raised so far. Whilst John felt we had an 85% chance of winning our case (when costs may be warded against the defendant), if we lost we would have to pay his fees as well. Also once proceedings commence, if they are halted by us we would be liable for the other side’s costs.

It was resolved that we should write a final letter to DL telling him we are serious about this and making a final modest offer; pointing out that legal action will reduce the amount of money available and that our offer will reduce once legal costs are incurred.

This was accepted and I immediately travelled up to North Yorkshire to conclude matter, ensuring of course that the proper form of discharge was signed and witnessed.

An article about this excellent news appeared in the Echo, this was picked up by the Heritage Lottery fund and they now await our formal application, which is being worked on with a view to submission in September.

History

Another piece in the amazing Mary Gordon story has come to light. I am restoring my own wooden yacht (A Dauntless class, built in 1973, good practice for the real thing!), and required a survey. I knew Derek Davidson had an interest in the MG and invited him over to have a look at the boat at the Pyewipe. It transpires that Derek also once owned the boat and he told me the story of how he and his brother Ray purchased the boat on Brayford (probably from Tony Ellis) in 1972 or 1973. They took three days to tow it up the Fosse Dyke and the Trent to Trent Lock boatyard, Sawley, using the ex-hire cruiser Ben Gun.

During the lift out the crane jib broke and crashed down on to the Mary Gordon. Fortunately if hit the cabin, saving the life of a young lad standing underneath at the time. Derek and Ray partially re-ribbed the boat and took off the damaged cabin, which was later regrettably destroyed. Derek does however have a very good memory of the cabin, which he e says bowed inwards slightly and had removable railway carriage type windows. Derek is based right next door to Steve Mills who we hope will be undertaking the restoration, and has agreed to be our marine surveyor, ensuring that the work progresses to everyone’s satisfaction.

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