City College apprentices to renovate medieval cargo ship in Southampton

Published: 23rd January 2017

Published by City College Southampton

A new restoration project has just been announced which will see Southampton’s replica medieval cargo ship refurbished. The historic ship will be fully restored and improved by apprentices and students from City College’s specialist Marine Skills Centre, under the supervision of Learning Manager and expert boat builder Darren Patten.

The 10-metre clinker-built cargo ship is a replica of a 14th century medieval ship. It is situated in front of the city wall on Western Esplanade, which was originally the medieval waterfront for Southampton.

The ship was made around twenty years ago by Alex Ward, a former manager of the Marine Skills Centre, and is an important feature of Southampton’s history as it shows what such ships were like in medieval times. Ships like this set sail from the city for the Mediterranean carrying wool - England's main export at the time - and returned with wine, oil, fruits and spices from Southern Europe and the Middle East.

Over the years the ship has deteriorated and Southampton City Council have recognised it is time for the ship to be given a new lease of life. Cllr Simons Letts, Leader of Southampton City Council, commented: "This is an excellent way to involve our young people in the community, giving them an opportunity to contribute to a high profile public project. We place great importance on protecting and promoting our heritage, and it’s great to see businesses and students coming together to help us create an attractive environment for visitors and residents."  

Hammerson, developers of Westquay Southampton’s new leisure and dining destination, is part funding this project. Andy Collyer, Westquay’s General Manager, commented: "We are pleased to be supporting the local community and students on the regeneration of a Southampton landmark and look forward to seeing the ship returned to its former glory."

Students from the Marine Skills Centre recently visited the ship to carry-out a survey ready for the renovation work. The students undertaking this project will be mostly level 3 apprentice boat builders and engineers, studying for City and Guilds qualifications. Many of them work for local marine companies and attend college one day a week.  

The College’s marine learning manager, Darren Patten, will oversee the project and ensure the highest possible number of students will have the chance to work on the project. He said: "We are excited to be involved in this partnership between Hammerson and Southampton City Council and to be part of the Southampton re-generation project. Southampton’s maritime history is integral to the history and development of this city and at our Marine Skills Centre we strive to keep alive traditional skills as displayed in the construction of this ship and also to accommodate the demands of today’s modern and technological marine industry.

"The training of young people in the marine industry is essential to the future prosperity of the region. As such this is an opportunity for us to showcase the skills of our students and contribute to the experience of people visiting the City."

Sarah Stannard, Principal of City College said: "I am delighted that our Marine Skills Centre team will be working on renovating this replica historic ship. This community project is an exciting opportunity for our marine students to develop their boat building skills, learn more about our marine heritage and make a contribution to improving the city they study in."

Marine apprentices survey ship 1

Marine apprentices survey ship 2

Marine apprentices survey ship 3