Friday, 19 February 2016

LIGHTSHIP CORMORANT / LADY DIXON - Chapter 136



We may be getting somewhere, on funding; history; and blasting.  Several people have kindly offered suggestions on these topics.
     I have a short list of possible funders, which I will contact. However, having run a small charity for a number of years and having been Trustee of a grant-making foundation, I know just how difficult it is to make a connection between the two.  Cormorant / Lady Dixon / The Lightship is way past any hope of restoring her as a lightship and anyway, which of her incarnations should be recreated if we had unlimited funds?  The best we can do is to preserve what is there and extend her working life – as a houseboat.  This will preserve an important piece of maritime history (she is one of only four large ‘composite’ ships still in existence) and save her from the fate that awaits Ena, sadly being prepared for her last journey to the wooden ships’ graveyard nearby (Photo 1361). 

    Mervyn Hagger sent snippets of information from George Saunders who said that A. N. Thomas, the BBC's Head of Planning and Installation Department,  retired from a lifetime of BBC service around 1960 and began advising the embryonic offshore stations such as VRN,  CNBC and GBOK (Lady Dixon).  He seems to have equipped the Lady Dixon with an old BBC 5kW Marconi transmitter (Photo 1362) while the ship was 'stuck in the mud' at Pitsea. 

The GPO who were monitoring every move, then pounced and removed all the equipment. Under the 1949 Wireless Telegraphy Act it was illegal to install a transmitter without a license. Which just goes to show it doesn’t do to be a stick-in-the-mud!
   We have found a wet-blasting firm who can indeed stretch out 150 yards to the ship with their blasts. The large compressor will have to stay on terra firma, but the blast machine is small enough to move along the walkway and be put aboard. So either air is pumped out to it via a long air hose, or it stays with the compressor and the blast hose is the one that stretches. Either way it is not an inexpensive hire – about £1,200 per week not counting expendables.  I had better get going on those funding requests!
David