TWO historic ships with strong links to the Tendring coastline are to be restored to their former glory.

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A £790,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) will be used on a project to renovate the oyster-dredging smack Priscilla, which dates back to 1893, and the Trinity House Launch 393, built in the 1950s.

Both vessels are on the National Small Boat Register and are both at risk of loss unless urgent repairs are carried out.

The project – called Land and Sea – will also, over three years, employ 15 marine engineering apprentices.

Priscilla, a 30-foot-long oyster-dredging smack built in Brightlingsea, operated throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries and represents a time in Brightlingsea’s history when the town’s Stone boat-building yard was a major employer up until its closure in 1988.

The boat was found and recovered in Bristol 10 years ago in very poor condition and requires complete restoration.

The Trinity House Launch 393, built by Lambie Ltd of North Shields, North Tyneside, was a service vessel used by Trinity House in the Thames Estuary and North Sea to maintain lights at sea and supply lightships and isolated lighthouses with food, fuel and crew.

Robyn Llewellyn, head of the Heritage Lottery Fund for the East of England, said: “These boats help us to understand the economic and social heritage of the Tendring peninsula coastline. Now, this HLF grant will bring this history up to date by providing opportunities for local people to get involved in conserving and protecting the boats, while learning many new skills in the process.”

A series of boat yard open days are planned for visitors during the project where they will be able to talk to the apprentices, view the vessels and watch traditional skills being put into practice.

Rupert Marks, chairman of the Pioneer Sailing Trust, said: “Maritime heritage is not just about the big famous vessels, it is also about simple, working craft that played a vital role in keeping the nation fed and the shipping safe at sea.

“We are excited about restoring two simple but significant vessels that help to tell this story. We are also pleased that we can use the restoration process as a means of inspiring the next generation of boat builders and restorers.”

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