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Robin goes bobbin’ down the Thames for repairs

PUBLISHED: 14:43 01 July 2008 | UPDATED: 13:24 05 October 2010

Steam Ship

Steam Ship "Robin" leaving West India Dok, Canary Wharf, London June 28, 2008

Carmen Valino

THE oldest surviving steamship in the world has weighed anchor from its berth at Canary Wharf and headed down the Thames for urgent repairs. The SS Robin is feeling its age at 120. So it slipped its Docklands mooring after 18 years to have a £1 million overhaul over the next six months in dry dock in Suffolk

By Tom Porter

THE oldest surviving steamship in the world has weighed anchor from its berth at Canary Wharf and headed down the Thames for urgent repairs.

The SS Robin is feeling its age at 120. So it slipped its Docklands mooring after 18 years to have a £1 million overhaul over the next six months in dry dock in Suffolk.

The repairs come after a campaign by volunteers and supporters to raise the funds to ensure the vessel's survival.

Crossrail stepped in with a £1.9m loan to help them out while they raise the cash because the vessel is being 'displaced' by a new Isle of Dogs station being built at West India Quay.

“Moving a vessel nearly 120 years old is risky at the best times, without taking on the uncertainties of the Thames Estuary and coastal waters of the North Sea,” explained the SS Robin’s director David Kampfner.

“But we were confident and she would come through with flying colours.

“This is a proper East End ship that helped build Britain in to a great industrial power.”

The steamer was built in 1890 by Thames Ironworks at a time when the London docks were at the centre of world trade.

The vessel, which was sold to Spanish owners in 1900, was about to be broken up in 1974 when it was rescued from the scrapyard and restored to its home on the Thames by the Maritime Foundation. It is one of country’s 60 ships of pre-eminent national importance alongside the Cutty Sark and HMS Belfast.

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