Rescue on the cards for trawling veteran Published: 01 September, 2006
HULL City Council is planning to rescue one of the world’s oldest steam trawlers and bring it back to the port.
The 90-year old Viola, which began its life in Hull before the First World War, is currently languishing in a remote whaling station in the South Atlantic outpost of South Georgia, but it remains in remarkably reasonable condition. Some people believe that if it was restored it would make an ideal vessel for a film or TV series set in the early part of the 20th century.
The ship has a remarkable history. It began life in 1908 for the Hellyer Brothers Company which owned one of Hull’s largest distant water trawler fleets. Like so many Hull and Grimsby trawlers of their day it was requisitioned for service during the First World War and served as a minesweeper and mine-layer in the North Sea, seeing action against early German U-boats.
The Viola was sold to the Norwegians in the early 1920s before eventually making its way to the South Atlantic where it has remained ever since. However, she is now permanently tied up in port and action needs to be taken soon if her hull is not to deteriorate.
The campaign was started by Dr Rob Robinson from Hull College , who is passionate about returning the Viola to Hull and who persuaded local civic leaders to take up the challenge. Coun Sean Chaytor of Hull Council is enthusiastic about the scheme and said: “She is part of our fishing heritage and she is also the backbone of a once great Hull fishing fleet.” The estimated £1-million cost of returning the Viola to the Humber and restoring the vessel to her former glory would probably be met from lottery or heritage funds, but not from local council taxes, he insisted.
Earlier this year, the Viola’s bell was found in Norway and brought back to Hull where it is now rung every day at the start of trading at the Fishgate market.
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