Built in 1901 out of Baltic Larch in Scotland, the motor fishing vessel Willdora, answered the call to go to the shores of Dunkirk in 1940 to help rescue the trapped survivors of the British Expeditionary Force. As time passes fewer and fewer of these vessels survive, the Willdora being an example. Rescued from total disintegration, she is now receiving the care and attention that such a brave and exceptional lady should, at the hands of a dedicated group of men and women, the Sunderland Maritime Heritage Trust.
The Willdora rescued 200 men from the beach and carried them back to larger vessels waiting off-shore. Returning for more troops she ran aground and remained there, an enforced sojourn in France for the remainder of the war.
Working with great care and integrity, the Trust is keen to reuse as much of the original material as possible. The first picture shows details of the hull of the boat. Using thin laths of larch to fill the gaps between the planks the hope is to make the Willdora ready to participate in the 2018 Tall Ships visit to Sunderland.
The members of SMH are a welcoming group of people. They are keeping many of the old shipyard skills alive and willingly share these skills with younger apprentices. Tony Griffiths, Dr John Clarke and I visited the site twice. The second image shows Tony talking with Martin Dent, the Trust’s treasurer. The third, fourth and fifth images are from Tony and show the other two members of the troika seeking out the best places from which to photograph the boat.