A historic ship which is to be restored by apprentices has finally arrived on Wearside after a successful public appeal to save the vessel from the scrap heap.
The 108-year-old yacht Senora was welcomed into Keel Square for a theatre and music event, after which she was driven to her new home at the former Pallion shipyard on the River Wear.
Eighteen young apprentices from Wearside will start restoring the boat to her former glory as part of an innovative training project by the Senora Trust and North East-based Monumental Training.
The Senora’s restoration hopes to provide a platform for the return of shipbuilding apprenticeships to Sunderland, once the biggest shipbuilding town in the world.
The group of apprentices hope to restore her in time for the 2018 Tall Ships Race in Sunderland.
Monumental will take the 16-18-year-old trainees through their NVQ diplomas, placing them into jobs in engineering and construction with the help of businesses.
In March 2015, the generosity of the North East public saved the Senora from being destroyed by the generous response to a rescue appeal for funding made by the Senora Trust.
The 50-ft long boat was transported on her new journey from her old home in Newhaven, Sussex, making a dramatic entrance into Sunderland across the Monkwearmouth Bridge.
After restoration, Senora will be moored on the Sunderland quayside, and available to community groups, charities and aspiring sailors of all ages and all backgrounds for day trips, chartering and teaching sailing skills.
Kim Simpson of the Senora Trust said: “It’s been hard work getting this far, but seeing the excitement on the faces of our apprentices last week as they signed up makes it all worth it.
“It’s vital the trust continues to raise funds and involve businesses to support our apprentices through to good jobs.
“If you feel you have a heart to do something of real long term value for young people, and get a beautiful yacht based in Sunderland for the community to enjoy into the future, please get in touch with the trust.”
The Señora is a wooden classic, a gem in larch and oak, designed by the renowned yacht designer Alfred Mylne, and built on the Isle of Bute.
Previously she was owned or sailed by the rich and famous - her owners include a wealthy Scottish industrialist, the chairman of the P&O shipping line and a racing driver.
Ken Dunbar, of Sunderland BID which is backing the project, said: “There are several reasons why the arrival of the Senora is a great story.
“One is that it will be getting apprentices back into work and in an area which we didn’t think we would be doing shipbuilding again.
“It will also be a big part of our build-up to the Tall Ships in 2018, which will be one of the biggest events Sunderland has ever hosted.
“I’m sure it will be a great spectacle to see former shipbuilders helping apprentices work on the boat over the coming months.”
More information about the project is available at facebook.com/senoratrust.