Local BBC Sites

Page last updated at 15:54 GMT, Wednesday, 8 September 2010 16:54 UK
Snooping around historic Humber super sloop Spider T

Mal Nicholson gives a guided tour of his vessel, the Spider T

It was brought back to life after years of being a wreck and now, a unique historical sailing vessel in North Lincolnshire is welcoming the public onboard during the Heritage Open Days.

The Spider T is the last surviving Humber super sloop and is a protected vessel listed on the National Register of Historic Vessels.

The 62 ft long sloop is moored at Keadby Lock near Scunthorpe and was one of a pair; designed by Frederick Warren and built at Warren's shipyard in New Holland, in 1926, for the purpose of transporting cargo.

Its captain at the time, J J Tomlinson, launched the sloop as Spider T after his nephew's nickname, whilst the T stood for the first letter of his surname.

In use until 1972, the Spider T was later sunk then refloated to be used for a community project in Rotherham and then fell into disrepair.

Spider T: spiral staircase below deck
A reclaimed Edwardian spiral staircase that leads to the grand cabin

In 1994, local man and engineer Mal Nicholson bought the sloop and, with an army of volunteers, lovingly restored it back to its original condition; seen as a transformation on a grand scale.

"She [Spider T] was a lovely riveted construction that needed some real TLC to bring her back from the brink.

"I suppose it was a one way ticket for her. She needed either extensive work or I suppose to be cut up and scrapped and made into baked bean tins," said Mal.

"Rescuing her from an absolute wreck and bringing her back to sail it becomes part of you and part of your life, so she's very important."

Below deck, it's not so much a pokey cabin but Edwardian style splendour with every nook and cranny decorated in detail; a far cry from its early cargo carrying heyday.

"The vessel is from 1926, which is really art deco period, but the times that Captain Tomlinson would've remembered and the décor he would've been used to would've come from the Edwardian period."

Many of the fixtures and fittings have been reclaimed or acquired through salvage yards, whilst the sloop's original parts such as steering wheel, hand winches and anchor chains were reconditioned.

The 1920s style sails were recreated by a traditional sail maker and the vessel was fully rigged for the first time since the late 1930s.

Edwardian cabin
The Edwardian cabin complete with English oak floor, statue and oil lamps

It took 14 years to restore before it could set sail but Mal insists the project is far from over.

"To be honest, it's not finished now. This process has been ongoing now for 14 years and I can honestly see the next five years with other projects still being undertaken.

"The cabin down the foc'sle is one of the things we're hoping to do this winter coming. The engine room and the aft section of the vessel are in need of a really good reorganisation and refurbishment.

"So effectively I think the project is very much like the Forth Bridge: get most of the major things sorted, but the actual maintenance is ongoing," added Mal.

In the last three years, Spider T has travelled over 4,600 nautical miles - across rivers and seas - and according to her owner, still has plenty of life left:

"The fact that now she's sort of nearing completion, she'll be around for a lot of time to come."

The Spider T will be welcoming the public onboard during the Heritage Open Days between Thursday 9th and Sunday 12th September 2010.

Humber sloop Spider T tour
14 Sep 10 |  History
Unique boat sails to Holland
06 May 09 |  England

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific