2007 Mid-year Update

Date Posted: June 7, 2007

Dear Friends,

The project continues to progress well. David Brook architect Glenn Swann and myself visited the highly successful Attenborough visitor centre in Nottingham, an eco-friendly building energy efficient, built on stilts, which David was involved with in a previous life. A smaller version of which could provide an iconic visitor centre on Brayford Pool, enabling visitors to see the boat (which would be moored alongside), and to take in the Mary Gordon Story over a cup of tea and a bun. The many photographs would be well displayed so that visitors could see the Brayford as it was 100 years or more ago and then look across through picture windows to compare the present day view.

Most importantly it would provide us with a superb classroom environment to meet our educational aspirations. David has provided us with an exciting vision, however we are not getting carried away as there are many hurdles to overcome before the vision can become a reality, but this would have a major positive impact on Brayford Waterfront. Discussions are taking place with Brayford Trust and Lincoln City Council. The project will be separate from the MG restoration project, and will hopefully be able to access green grants etc.

In the meantime our lottery bid will focus on the boat being moored at the Sea cadets Base. John East, David Brook, Andy Blow and I met last week with Amanda Turner, our case officer at HLF. Whilst the prospects remain positive, (i.e. we are hitting all the right buttons and there is money available), we are going to be swimming in a bigger pond as the Olympics approach. This will unfortunately suck a lot of HLF funding out of the system so we need to get our application in ASAP. Nearly all of the parts of the jig saw are now in place, it just needs putting together and we have set our selves a deadline of 30/9/07 for our full bid. The different aspects relating to this are up dated below.

Quotes for re-build.

A survey has been undertaken and a specification for the re-build produced by Fraser-Nash Consultancy. We are now going out to boatyards for estimates, we need to ensure that a least 30% of the original boat is re-used or retained to qualify. Maritime Coastguard Agency will need to be consulted at every stage, commercial skippers licences will need to be obtained.
Business Plan.

A brief business plan will be needed in respect of the operating company, which will be a separate business under the Trust, (not for profit). Cash flow forecast showing breakeven, proposed operations, permissions/licences needed, employment contracts, proposed use of boat in Lincolnshire and elsewhere including transportation by road. Also the educational aspects which count for 50% of the total input.
Education.

Andy Blow has been a tremendous help here. Andy and I attended a teachers conference in March, We spoke to approx 25 people, all were very positive. The main points were:

  1. Our plans will fit well with KS1 and KS2 (i.e. infant/junior school).
  2. The local history/community aspects were considered especially significant.
  3. Convenience: Lincoln was felt to be accessible for most schools in the county. An hour or so is most likely scenario, with a coach load being of junior school children, half spending half an hour on the boat and swapping to spend half an hour in the classroom.
  4. Visitor/Resource centre: proposals for this were very well received. We need to consider classroom needs.

Detailed discussions were held with the following:-

It will be necessary to appoint an education manger, probably part time.
Andy has also had a very useful discussion with Alf Wilkinson who is the national Projects Officer for the Historical Association. Alf is a Partner Adviser with CFBT, The Lincolnshire School Improvement Service.

We hope to engage Alf to undertake the creation of the lesson plans/educational materials for both Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2; he has a vast experience in writing educational plans for lottery bids. Andy and I will be meeting with him to consider engaging him to input into our application, but there will be cost involved, funds are getting low and we will need to investigate grant availability for this specific job – National Historic Ships at Greenwich may be able to help if it hasn’t all gone to the Cutty Sark.

Moorings.

We have met with the Sea Cadets and will arrange a further meeting shortly. It will take a minimum of 3 years to get the visitor centre established, and of course there is n o guarantee this will happen. So we have to work on the assumption, to satisfy HLF requirements, that the boat will be permanently moored at the Sea Cadets. We need to obtain agreement for a lease (minimum 15 years, consider a suitable interpretation building (possibly port cabin/wooden building). Classroom work could be done in school, visitor access will need to be available from time to time, and we either need to permanent cover the boat or consider a winter cover. The proposed mooring should not need much work to make it serviceable.
Interpretation.

Quotes have been obtained for display material, (some very innovative), we have the MG story to go with the picture and are talking to City of Lincoln archaeologist (very helpful) re the local history aspects. I feel we still need some expertise with museum experience to help with the interpretation and we will speak to the Collection and Museum of Lincolnshire Life.
Other issues.

David has suggested we involve the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust who may be interested in using the visitor centre to show the Brayford Wildlife (tube into the water etc). We need to discuss our proposal with Brayford Trust; there may be some options re the existing harbour masters office which we can discuss. Lincoln City Council, we need to establish dialogue with the new regime to make them aware of our plans and aspirations which hopefully will continue to be supported.
The Pyewipe Inn has been very good to us over the years, providing free storage. Bob and Sara Pickles sold the pub last year, and whilst the new owners have been very helpful in continuing this arrangement, they are planning to extend their facilities and the boat may have to be moved to another site hopefully this will be to the selected boatyard for restoration. (update: Pyewipe has been bought back again).

Frank Baines. We learnt with sadness that Frank passed away last December. He was active until he died, well into his nineties, and was of occurs the man who was instrumental, with Es Bates and Mark Woodcock, in bringing the Mary Gordon to Lincoln. Sail on Frank….

I have received the following emails which are of great interest as these contacts will hopefully help to fill in the gaps in the vessels history between the wars.

Dear Peter, I am the granddaughter of Stephen Askew and I have two photographs of the Mary Gordon when owned by my grandfather If you are interested please contact me. Could you please tell me when the work on the Mary Gordon will be completed I would love to see it as my father told me many stories of the Mary Gordon MANY THANKS MARGARET THORPE

Hi Peter,

My name is Graham Young, my Mother (nee) Sylvia Walker told me about the boat a while ago, as it once belonged to my great grandfather, Stephen Askew, who used to own the cinema in Belle Vue, Wakefield. My late Grandmother used to help out selling teas on the boat.

Graham Young

Would love to see the Mary Gordon on the lake again. At the moment I can not see it happening but you never know. Certainly getting more people aware that your project to restore her is going on a pace would encourage the hope. Did you ever have any information about the earlier boat called the Maid of Athens.

I gather that the Mary Gordon was commissioned to replace her. As you are aware both these boats were very popular. Leeds Council is at the moment very wary about having small boats on the lake. There is a rowing and sailing club that uses the lake at the week ends but of course they have their own insurance.

Perhaps if it were possible to have larger boats like the Mary Gordon and the Maid of Athens they would be more enthusiastic. I know that trips on the lake would be very popular. How do you go on in Lincoln with this problem. Look forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards.

Hilary Dyson.

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