Queen Mary gets a fresh lick of paint

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harity, Friends of TS Queen Mary rescued the ship from almost certain demise after she was found languishing in a dockyard on the Thames Estuary, several years after serving as a floating bar and restaurant in London. The charity raised £300,000, enabling her to be towed from London to Greenock in Scotland. A £2 million fundraising campaign was launched in June 2016 to restore and re-open her as an arts and culture venue. The charity is supported by its patron, Scots actor Robbie Coltrane OBE.

The restoration of the TS Queen Mary, one of the most historic and unique turbine steamships in the world, has been a project in the making over the past 18 months for Dales Marine Services. 

This magnificent project came to light back in March 2015, when Dales Marine were approached by The Friends of The Queen Mary Trust regarding the scope of works that were required to be completed in order for the vessel to be prepared safe to tow from the port of Tilbury (London) to Greenock.

Seizing this challenge without hesitation, Dales Marine immediately mobilised a team of men, materials and plant to Tilbury during April 2016 to rescue this national treasure. With Dales expertise on site, pre-tow works continued over five days and were completed successfully and within schedule; much to the delight of all involved.

The TS Queen Mary was in safe hands as she had already won hearts and minds to ensure her safe keeping. The next stage in the project was for Dales Marine Services to procure a coastal towage contractor who, on behalf of Dales, would then tow the TS Queen Mary 650 miles north from Tilbury to Greenock.

The tow was executed successfully in May 2016 and five days later, the vessel was berthed safely alongside Dales Marine›s facility in Greenock, where some remedial works were undertaken until the next drydock date was available.

Successful drydocking

Funding by The Queen Mary Trust was already underway to reach the much desired £150,000.00 milestone for drydocking the vessel. That day arrived on Thursday 1st September 2016 when the TS Queen Mary drydocked in Dales Marine’s Garvel Clyde facility.  The Queen Mary had not been drydocked in over 20 years, and so it was an anxious time for all to assess how she had fared at sea and how she would look out of the water.

However, the 1930s steamship was given a clean bill of health when she was inspected, with the inspection highlighting just minor repair work being required on the hull, a testament to the skills and engineering talent of Scotland’s shipbuilders. The hull has since been stripped down, carefully coated and repainted in a bright white, deep black and red three-tone traditional colour scheme. Over the weekend of the 1st to 2nd of October the ‘Queen Mary’ name was carefully hand-painted onto the ship’s sides once again.

Charity trustee Iain Sim said: “To think just six months ago Queen Mary was languishing on the Thames and now she’s been stripped down, carefully inspected, protected with a specialist coating and repainted. She looks bonnie, spectacular, just cracking. Specialists from Dales Marine and paint manufacturers AkzoNobel and Jotun have done a great job.

“We are proud to be involved in restoring such an iconic vessel,” said Oscar Wezenbeek, Managing Director of AkzoNobel’s Marine Coatings business. “The Queen Mary is a legacy of Scotland’s great shipbuilding industry and will be a world class example of maritime heritage conservation.”

Continued Wezenbeek: “By providing sustainable, high performance coatings, we are sure TS Queen Mary can continue to be enjoyed and admired in all her glory and will help to inspire future generations for many years to come.”

AkzoNobel’s involvement in the project highlights the work the company is doing as part of its global Human Cities initiative. Focused on improving, energizing and regenerating urban communities across the world, the program is an active expression of the company’s purpose to create everyday essentials to make people’s lives more liveable and inspiring.

More to be done

However, as Sim says; “Despite all this work, there’s still a tremendous amount to be done inside before she can be reopened as an interactive exhibition and an arts and culture venue. That said, this is a fantastic milestone and we’ve demonstrated just what can be done.

“We’re very grateful to people and businesses across the country for their support and donations — every penny counts in our quest to raise £2 million to restore this wonderful piece of Scottish heritage.”

The £2 million fundraising campaign was launched in June by the charity’s patron, Scots actor Robbie Coltrane OBE. The charity has raised £300,000 towards its target so far, enabling this first phase of work.

When the work is complete, she will be berthed on the River Clyde at the heart of Glasgow’s Finnieston hub. Visitors will then be able to experience the heritage, design and culture of the art deco 1930s.

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