The Medusa Trust Restoration project
In 2004, the Trustees of the Medusa Trust started to consider the long term future of Medusa. She was by then 60 years old and had already exceeded her life expectancy by 55 years. It was clear that her seagoing life was nearly over unless some really major work was done on her.
There were two options:
- Bring her ashore as a static exhibit at a museum
- Do a major refit and keep her at sea
The benefit of the first option was that it preserved as much of the original fabric as possible but would mean a permanent end to being afloat. At it happened there was no great enthusiasm from museums to have her.
The second option would be expensive and it was not clear where the cash would come from. It would mean the sacrifice of original material from the ship and she would have to meet current safety standards. It felt like attempting the impossible but that was what everyone we consulted wanted us to do and the overwhelming view was to keep the vessel at sea where she belongs.
This decision started a major round of fundraising with a bid to HLF (in itself a substantial piece of work) that yielded £1m and matched with £100K raised by the Trust. Though this sounds a great deal of money we feared it would not go far when a shipyard started dismantling Medusa and finding all the hidden horrors. We therefore adopted a different tack for the project which met both our and HLF objectives for access, involvement and training value.
In Jan 2006 we took a short term lease on a derelict shipyard at Hythe and appointed The Maritime Workshop, a charity specialising in training young people to be shipwrights, to provide the workforce. By this means we were able to continue the involvement of the volunteers from the Support Group who have contributed to the project and increased their skills as well as helping a new generation of shipwrights.
As the project has progressed, all sorts of problems have emerged, ranging from finding sustainable sources of teak (solved by using reclaimed material) through to unexpected snags to, most recently, the loss of half our facility in a major fire. So far we have overcome them all and work steadily towards Medusa being back at sea.