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Leith Shipyards

A history of the Ships built at the Henry Robb Shipyard in Leith, Scotland. Also a testimony to the men who built the Ships and to all who sailed in them.
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Home Shipbuilding Restoration Projects SS EXPLORER RESTORATION

Leith Shipyards

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Explorer_at_seaThe restoration project is ongoing and this fine old example of a steam powered vessel is berthed down at Leith Docks.
The Leith Shipyards website is proud to have been asked to help promote this welcome project which can only help Leith and any future generations who may aspire to learn about the legacy of ships and the sea, well known to older generations of Leithers.
Included on the National Register of Historic Ships, the SS Explorer is an important Leith registered fisheries research vessel currently moored in the Edinburgh Dock, Leith. Like the RSS Discovery before her she was built solely for the purpose of scientific research.
Built by Alexander Hall & Company Ltd, Aberdeen and launched shortly after the Coronation as the FRV Explorer her significance is not to be underestimated as she was the last commercial deep sea ‘foreign service’ steam powered ship to have been built in Aberdeen and is the last steam ship to be registered in Leith.
She is the embodiment of Scottish shipbuilding, engineering and scientific heritage and a lasting tribute to the Northern waters marine industry, notwithstanding her contribution to our knowledge and understanding of the oceanography of the North East Atlantic and the North Sea.
The SS Explorer Preservation Society is a small volunteer society concerned with the restoration of this nationally important ship. A very small volunteer team have been working on the ship and keeping her maintained and preserving her for some time, however over the last year a new and enthusiastic cohort of dedicated volunteers has emerged and we are now at an exciting stage as our vision and aims are gaining wider support and gathering momentum.
The Society volunteer core now comprises of a qualified Chief Marine Engineer, a Certified Ships Master, a Certified Ships Mate, Certified Able Seamen, a time served painter and decorator, a time served engineer, an SQA A1 Assessor, a qualified community worker, a European Social Fund Project Co-ordinator, a qualified electrician, a Napier University Engineering lecturer and an IT Support engineer.
Our Vision and Aims are that we take things forward on the basis that the SS Explorer will be utilised as:
  • a training, skills and employability development hub for local people offering a range of recognised qualifications. This is critical in order for Leithers, particularly the young, to take full advantage of any re-industrialisation of the docks with the advent of such developments as wind turbine and other manufacturing facilities locating in Leith.
  • a high quality youth work resource offering Youth Achievement Awards, John Muir Awards and other opportunities for meaningful personal and social development.
  • a setting for cross generational work reconnecting the almost lost industrial and shipbuilding skills and knowledge of Leithers to a new generation seeking purpose and direction.
  • a setting offering a range of quality volunteering opportunities.
  • a living scientific, historical and educational resource which is aligned to the Curriculum for Excellence and which will enable schools to add an engaging and unique perspective to the Outcomes and Experiences that the CfE demands.
  • a visitor attraction which complements and adds depth to Leith's existing tourist offer.
  • a fully MCA certificated sea going vessel which will offer excursions, voyages and trips for pupils, groups and passengers.
  • an artistic focal point offering gallery space and a cabin for an artist or poet in residence etc. The Scottish Poetry Library is already supporting this aspect of the project and a potential poet in residence of international reputation has expressed great interest in becoming involved.
With a dedicated team of volunteer labour helping out to bring her back to sea-going state.
The SS EXPLORER at her berth at Leith.
All are welcome to visit us anytime you like. All you need if photo ID and enter the Docks via Bath Road (the Pond Pub is the landmark!)  Tell the guy on the gate you are visiting SS Explorer.  We are there every Tuesday and Saturday from 10:00 ish until 16:00 ish.
Unable to make it down to Leith, don't worry you can also participate and become a member and help in this way, also many other forms of donations can be found at the SS EXPLORER website.
The Engine room of the SS EXPLORER seen in the photograph above.
Much more to follow:- as the restoration continues the following photographs are progress up to the end of October 2012
The above photograph sent into the website from the presevation society shows the old steam ship at her berth in the docks at Leith, where the restoration project continues.
The Bridge needs a lot of work done to it as well, all this is done by volunteer labour, people who give up there spare time to do this very worthwhile work and whom without would see the demiss of yet another ship to the breakers.
Painting and filling of the Bulwarks is also ongoing
She really could do with a better berth in the old port, perhaps Forth Ports may see there way to giving her a better berth where more people can get to see the progress being done and perhaps even chip in!
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+3 #1 roger squires 2011-09-05 21:06
The engine in my narrow boat is a ruston 3ydz.which was delivered to henry robb of leith in 1960 for instalation in the tug scot 11" as a generator.i have the orinagal delivery note.the engine is still going strong.they dont build them like these anymore

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