Relaunching Britannia after 10 years ashore

by Britannia Sailing Trust in Winkleigh, Devon, United Kingdom

We did it
On 30th September 2023 we successfully raised £9,050 ( + est. £735.00 Gift Aid ) with 94 supporters in 53 days

After 10 years ashore Britannia will be relaunched in Exeter on 24 September. A significant moment, but she needs your help to get there!

Project by Britannia Sailing Trust

 New stretch target

If we can raise more, it will help us to establish a workshop and secure base at Exeter Quay enabling the team to finish fitting out and rigging, making Britannia ready for sea in 2024/5, and will help us to keep paying our young apprentices

Cover image by courtesy of John Worral - Journalist

                                      Arriving in Winkleigh in 20171691148152_thumbnail_(1).jpg

Britannia Sailing Trust is a volunteer-led maritime heritage charity, nearing the completion of a 10 year restoration of a 108 year old wooden sailing vessel - Britannia.  Britannia is one of two functional examples left in the world of a Class One East Coast Smack - a large traditional fishing boat of a type built and sailed on the Norfolk coast for centuries. Our aim is not only to return Britannia to a seaworthy condition, but to maintain that condition by keeping her working at sea. It has also become just as important to us to pass on the endangered heritage skills of wooden boatbuilding and seafaring to a new generation. We create opportunities in the heritage and maritime sectors for young people to carry on ancient traditions, while raising awareness of the modern environmental threats to our oceans, rivers and seas, through pollution.   

Britannia is a tangible example of sustainable transport in practice. We will hold workshops, quayside events and training in the skills required to sail in the traditional way, but also to take people to sea and show them the results of plastic waste in the marine and coastal environment. 

We are also planting a 15 acre boatbuilders woodland for the community:" in partnership with the National Trust, on the North Devon Coast of Exmoor.   The woodland is named Britannia Wood and it will feature native trees that have traditionally been used for wooden boatbuilding.  Throughout the rebuild it has been increasingly difficult to source timber of the quality required and in long enough lengths for planking a wooden boat of Britannia's size.  Many of the trees used are diseased, Ash, Larch and Oak, which will make it very difficult for boatbuilders in the future to have the resources necessary to build boats in a sustainable way. 


Five years ago we were completing the build of The Big Shed


in a field where Britannia has been kept throughout her restoration. Since then, huge progress has been made and the Shed has become a hub of activity in the small village of Winkleigh, in mid Devon,  where she has provided a space for people of all ages and abilities to get "stuck in."   Our "Friends of Britannia" are totally committed to seeing her sailing again, and are proud to be able to be part of this massive task.   

In our workshop, young and old work alongside one another. Skilled craftsmen come together with eager learners, breathing new life into this unique vessel while sharing knowledge and building a community.  A ship is more than the sum of her parts – she is brought to life by the hearts and hands of those who lovingly care for her. Our team has given a decade’s worth of blood, sweat and tears for this boat and want nothing more than to see Britannia go back into the water and return to a working life at sea.


Once sailing again, Britannia will offer career-building opportunities for disadvantaged young people in the maritime and heritage sector. She will be an ambassador for sustainable maritime transport – built of wood and powered by the wind.

She will raise awareness of the value of our oceans and the scourge of marine pollution, by allowing people to see it first hand.

And she will continue to serve as a living testament to the rich seafaring heritage of the East Coast and our island nation of Great Britain.1691153357_bow_on.jpg

We are now at another pivotal moment in the restoration, when Britannia will be transported overland to Exeter Heritage Harbour and launched again, 10 years after being saved from destruction, almost to the day! 

Her bottom has not touched water since! Many, many people have given their time, expertise, financial support and energy to get to this point and it will be an emotional moment for all concerned!

But to achieve this ambitious dream, we need your support. We have come a long way in the last ten years, and the dedication of our volunteers, patrons and supporters has carried us through the restoration process so far. However, the final phase of this project - relaunching Britannia – will need additional resources.

On the 19h September this year, Britannia left Winkleigh by road and was relaunched in Exeter,1695837474_rwlk6480%5B1%5D.jpg

where a wonderful celebratory public event was held on Sunday 24 September at the Piazza Terracina at - the head of the Canal basin.  

As we found out when getting Britannia to her workshop in 2017, transporting a 24 tonne wooden boat 23 miles overland is no small feat.  Transport costs have risen since 2017 and we now need £7500 to get her to Exeter.

This is where you can make a difference.

Your contribution will not only help us complete the remaining restoration work but will help us to get Britannia back in the water again where she belongs. Transporting Britannia to Exeter,  and launching her:  Making her safe for people to visit, and setting up an onboard training area to hold workshops that will inspire people to take action to reduce their consumption, buy local, and to reduce waste - plastic packaging in particular.  Plastic pollution in the ocean is contributing to the degradation of our marine environment.   This is the perfect moment to get involved. Every contribution, big or small, will play a vital role in Britannia's relaunch.

Join us and become a part of history in the making. Help us return Britannia to the waves.  

                  THANK YOU!

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