Some instax imaging of the recent photoshoot on the SS Robin for both a way to build links between the project and UK Sea Scouting and also for my upcoming visual arts project “Ships of Inspiration” which looks at the tangible factor of how people find certain ships inspiring.
The SS Robin, and her sister ship Rook, were built in Orchard Yard, Blackwall in London in 1890. Their triple expansion engines were fitted in Dundee by Gourlay Brothers. Both the hull and engineering were top rated by Lloyds of London.
She carried cargo around the UK from 1890 until 1900. Cargoes included barrelled herring, coal, china clay and granite for the Caledonian Canal.
The Robin was sold to a Spanish company in 1900. She was renamed Maria. She worked in Spain until 1974, mostly carrying coal along the North West Atlantic coast.
The Robin was moved to West India Quay in 1991. She remained there throughout the 1990s, by which time she was in need of additional restoration. In 2002 she was bought by David and Nishani Kampfner and put in trust, and was open as a photo gallery from 2004-2007. She was assessed in Lowestoft, and a Heritage Lottery Fund bid was successful to conserve her, open her to the public fully and to support the Trust’s community work.
The Robin was moved onto a floating pontoon so that her hull stays original and can be seen. This is a new and innovative approach for conserving a ship. You can get a glimpse of her at London’s Royal Victoria Dock alongside the EXCEL Centre, where she’s undergoing final restoration work only a mile from where she was originally built. In 2018 we are hoping to move Robin to a new shore side display area at the East India Dock Entrance Lock, alongside the Thames and close to Trinity Buoy Wharf and remains of Orchard Yard where she was originally built and launched into the River Lee at Bow Creek.
A huge thank you to Richard from the SSRobin and Trinity Buoy Wharf for allowing us access for the day.
More photos from this visit and others will be following as the art project develops with an exhibition planned for September 2019.