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Saturday, September 12, 1998 Published at 18:44 GMT 19:44 UK


Sailing ship returns home

Thousands gathered to welcome The Matthew back to Britain

Thousands of onlookers cheered as a replica 15th Century ship sailed home to Bristol.

The Matthew, a replica merchant ship, sailed in to harbour after a gruelling voyage across the Atlantic.

[ image: Town Cryer  Allen Bills formally welcomed The Matthew home]
Town Cryer Allen Bills formally welcomed The Matthew home
The wooden vessel set sail from the west country port last year, bound for Newfoundland, to retrace the voyage first made by John Cabot five centuries previously.

Back then, Italian sailor Giovanni Caboto had been commissioned by King Henry VII, in 1497, to find the Far East.

Instead, John Cabot, as he was known in England discovered "New Founde Lande" in The Matthew.

The replica Matthew spent the winter in North America before re-crossing the Atlantic and returning, on Saturday, to the city where it was built.

Well-wishers gathered on the quayside and Town Cryer Allen Bills formally congratulated her and the crew on their safe return.

[ image: At sea]
At sea
A gun salute and a singing crowd welcomed the ship back to her home town.

The building of the Matthew began in March 1994 on Redcliffe Wharf in the city using oak from trees blown down at Lord Bath's Longleat estate in Wiltshire in the 1990 storms.

Her future is unsure - financial problems may mean she ends up away from her home city.

But in the short-term, the Matthew is set to berth next to Bristol's other historic ship, the SS Great Britain.

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