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Council waive £3K Bond requirement for SS Freshspring Trust

SS Freshspring

Torridge District Council Community and Resources Committee have voted to return a £3,000 bond the SS Freshspring trust provided as surety to the Council before taking up its berth at the quay in Bideford. The bond was originally required as the exact condition of the ship was unknown before arrival and the Council had previously incurred costs in removing an abandoned sunken wreck, which was uninsured.

The SS Freshspring was completed in 1947 and put into service as part of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. She is the only surviving example from a total of 14 ships of this class, built as freshwater carriers and as a representative of a small steam driven cargo ship of her day. As a result the ship has been recognised as being of national historical significance and placed on the National Register of Historic vessels.

The project to restore the Freshspring was initially assisted by a £155K grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, which was largely used on extensive works to the hull to ensure she was safe to tow and berth in Bideford. Arriving in 2016 an agreement was made between Torridge District Council and the Freshspring trust for the vessel to have a long-term berth in Bideford Harbour. This was to enable the trust to restore the vessel back to working condition.

Over the last five years significant work has been carried out in bringing the Freshspring back to life, the majority of it undertaken by a long list of volunteers, as well as local businesses. As a result the overall condition of the vessel has improved significantly and prompted the trust to request a return of the bond so that the money can be put towards further repair work. In exchange the trust has agreed that the ship will be dry docked every 5-6 years to ensure that the ship remains in sound and seaworthy condition and that adequate insurance will also be maintained.

Torridge District Councillor Bob Hicks - Chair of Community and Resources Committee and the Harbour Board said:

"The Freshspring has clearly been significantly transformed since her arrival thanks to the efforts of all the volunteers, local businesses and crafts people. The trust also continues to provide a programme committed to education and the promotion of engineering and seafaring careers, which have a long history and association with the area around the Torridge estuary. It is fast becoming a must see attraction in Bideford, which will be a great draw for the tourist industry in the town. We are delighted to be able to continue to show our support and recognise the progress made by the trust through the return of the bond."

9th September 2021