Raybel Charters Community Interest Company has received National Lottery funding for the restoration of the Thames sailing barge Raybel, it was announced today. Made possible by National Lottery players, the project aims to bring the Raybel back into full sailing condition as an asset for the local community.
Funding of £680,000 has been awarded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund for the three-year project, which will start this summer.
Renowned as "the ultimate evolution" of the sailing barge, Raybel was built at Milton Creek, Sittingbourne and launched in 1920. The success of the bid means that Raybel will be restored in time for her centenary year.
The restoration will take place at Lloyd Wharf on Milton Creek and will be a key component of a new heritage tourism and leisure site that is being developed by Swale Borough Council. A sailing barge restoration has never been carried out at Sittingbourne before, despite the town’s great heritage in barge construction.
The project will also provide training for local young people and, through links with local community organisations, heritage volunteering, conservation, researching and sailing opportunities. A three-year programme of heritage activities has been planned and will be further developed with local people.
The Raybel team will be recruiting project staff and volunteers over the next month.
Post-restoration Raybel will become an asset for heritage-based education, skills and health projects, and will become a key link in an emerging network of sail cargo pioneers, shipping goods from Europe and across the Atlantic, to north Kent and into London.
You can find out more about the project on their website http://raybelcharters.com/