A STORM is brewing over the sale of six historic model boats due to go under the hammer tomorrow.
Members of Monkwearmouth History Group have accused their committee of “selling off the crown jewels” of their club.
They are angry over the decision to auction six models of 1800s sailing ships, donated to the group after Sunderland shipyard JL Thompson’s closed.
Members claim they were not consulted over the “outrageous” move which could see “valuable pieces of Sunderland’s proud shipbuilding heritage ending up in other parts of the country, or even abroad”.
The Echo understands the history group is seeking to raise as much money as possible to ensure its survival due to the closure of Monkwearmouth Library.
The club has met in the library for the past 23 years but will soon be left homeless as council cuts see the building finally shut.
But members say this is no excuse for selling off part of the city’s heritage.
One member added: “This is an outrageous decision. These are valuable models of the history of Sunderland and the River Wear.
“These are Loftsman’s scale models, which in short means craftsmen and naval architects can build them as exact replicas of ships built in Sunderland during the 1800s. This decision should not have ben left to a few committee members. We should be looking at it in terms of what is in the best interest of Sunderland and future generations.”
The six models are due to go under the hammer at Boldon Auction Galleries tomorrow.
They are expected to fetch between £400 and £600 each.
Frank Dembry, chairman of the group, said: “We thought we were doing the right thing by making this decision. We believed we were representing our members.
“As representatives we have never before had to go to members about decisions. Whenever we organise a lunch or a trip out they have always accepted the committee’s decision.
“If we want to keep our group, we have to rent a room for future meetings and this, of course, costs money.”
Mr Dembry says the committee would have been happy to hear any concerns members had about the decision.
Opponents of the move say they want the ships to remain in the city and possibly go to a museum rather than have them bought by a private collector, possibly living many miles away.