Apprentices at the City of Liverpool College have been carefully restoring an early 20th century sailing boat known as a ‘Lancashire Nobby’ – and their efforts were featured on a primetime BBC TV show.
A documentary camera crew filmed the youngsters at the Vauxhall Street campus as they worked on Mystery II, an inshore sailing vessel that was used as both a pleasure and a fishing vessel.
Lancashire Nobby vessels date back to the 1840s and would sail around the Mersey coastline, Lancashire and the Isle of Man catching shrimp. Nobby was a slang name given to the boats, which means ‘rough wood’.
The BBC is making a six-part documentary series called ‘Britain Afloat’, which will tell a social history of Britain through some of the boats that helped to shape it.
On Friday, September 29, on BBC1 one of the series half-hour episodes looked at the history of pleasure sailing on the Mersey, featuring boats such as the Nobby, the Seabird Half Rater and the Liverpool Bay Falcon.
The restoration of Mystery II is being carried out by carpentry and joinery students who are working alongside skilled traditional boat builders using methods more than a century old.
The students will learn to use different types of material and traditional jointing methods.
The college’s mechanics students will get involved with restoring and rebuilding the engine and the fabrication and welding students will replace all the metal work.
To finish, painting and decorating students will apply preserve and final finish to her to restore the vessel to its former glory.
Mystery II was built in 1911 by James Armour of Fleetwood for Frank Hughes, who lived in New Brighton, according to information held by the Nobby Owners Association, who have chosen the college to complete the restoration.
The vessel was specifically designed to beat Mr Hughes’s competitor’s boat Camellia but was disqualified from the 1911 New Brighton Magazine Regatta.
The next year Mystery II came third and raced in the West Cheshire and New Brighton Regatta in 1913, finishing third, and in the same year came second in the Royal Mersey Yacht Club Regatta.
It registered for fishing as LL59 on May 23, 1911 and continued operating with the same number until 1991.
Stewart Quayle, head of construction and building at the City of Liverpool College, said: “Welcoming the BBC to the college to film the restoration of the Lancashire Nobby was a great experience for our students.
“The benefits to the students carrying out real work activities, including heritage skills of traditional boat builders and the strong links with Liverpool maritime history is invaluable.
“Traditional wooden shipbuilders have sadly all but disappeared from the Mersey over the years, as modern fibreglass boats became more popular.
“So, it is more important than ever to pass on these traditional boat building methods to the next generation before they’re lost forever.”
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