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What a year it’s been for historic trawler Ross Tiger!

10:02 am, Friday, 8th December 2023 - 3 months ago

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What a year it’s been for the Ross Tiger!

From reopening to the public in March following vital deck works, to celebrating 30 years as a museum ship at Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre, it really has been a busy but positive time for the iconic ship.

Standing proud in the Alexandra Dock, she has welcomed visitors, young and old, from far and wide, for three decades.

Fishing is still seen as one of our most dangerous peacetime occupations, and today, Ross Tiger is a fitting tribute to the hard work and dedication of Grimsby’s brave fishing pioneers.

Ross Tiger is a 1950s Grimsby trawler, thought to be the oldest diesel side-trawler to survive in the UK. She was restored as a tribute to the trawlermen of the town and opened to the public as a museum ship at Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre.

“It’s hard to imagine Grimsby without having the Ross Tiger here, and for the last 30 years, Ross Tiger has sat in the heart of the town representing the industry that made Grimsby famous around the world,” said David Ornsby, operations manager at Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre.

“You can look at photographs in books, you can look at archive films, you can speak to people that were there, but to actually climb aboard the ship itself – smell it, feel it, experience it – there is no substitute for that.”

Skipper Dennis Avery looking from Wheelhouse Window on Ross Tiger. From the Fred Powles Collection.

Celebrating 30 years of Ross Tiger at Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre

This year marked 30 years since the historic trawler came to Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre as a museum ship.

To celebrate the occasion, North East Lincolnshire Council has created a video of key figures explaining what Ross Tiger means to them and why she’s so important for the town’s heritage.

The video can be found here: Celebrating 30 Years of the Ross Tiger at Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre – YouTube

Here’s just some of the great things people had to say…

“It’s very important that she is saved and preserved so that people can come and see what actually went on. People don’t realise what people have gone through, sometimes at the cost of a life, to put that fish on that plate. It is vital this ship is preserved for future generations – it must never be forgotten.” – Dennis Avery, former skipper of the Ross Tiger and trawler guide at the centre.

“It is the jewel in the crown for the Heritage Centre and also for Grimsby. It’s very important we retain the history of the fishing industry and what Grimsby’s all about.” – Deborah Winter, front of house supervisor at the centre.

“That’s what Grimsby was built on, the strength of our fishing industry. Ross Tiger is a real physical representation of that. When you look at her, you’re looking at the past and looking at all the hard work that was done on the ship and on the docks to make Grimsby what it was.” – Louise Bowen, collections officer at the centre.

“It’s a massive focal point for Grimsby and we do definitely need to keep the ship. You can’t replicate this. You can look at films, you can look at pictures, but to actually come on the special vessel is a really special day.” – John Grantham worked in the rail industry and is now a trawler guide at the centre.

“To have fabulous heritage asset like the Ross Tiger is a wonderful opportunity for people to get up and close to our rich maritime history. We’re so lucky to have her and it’s wonderful to be celebrating her anniversary with North East Lincolnshire Council. I’m also really proud of the team at Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre who look after the Ross Tiger on a daily basis. We also have our wonderful trawler guides that bring the whole experience to life.” – Helen Thompson, strategic lead for tourism at NELC.

“Without us telling the stories, people have no idea the work did and conditions we went through to put fish and chips on a plate.” – Ron Telford, former third hand and trawler guide at the centre.

“It’s very important we keep the ship because she is the one of the last of this kind left, there is no more, and fishermen now are a dying breed who can tell the stories.” – Bob Formby, former skipper and trawler guide at the centre.

“Ross Tiger is a fantastic asset to North East Lincolnshire Council – it’s absolutely fantastic. It was created back in the 1950s, it was the bees knees of a boat in the day and it was part of the biggest fishing fleet in the world. It’s important we maintain it.” – Councillor Hayden Dawkins, portfolio holder culture, heritage and the visitor economy at NELC.

“We’ve got to recognise the contribution that the fishermen made to Grimsby. Over 7,000 men lost their lives when they were on vessels fishing for the area and that sacrifice shouldn’t be forgotten. In the Ross Tiger, we’ve got a fine example of the heritage of the area and we shouldn’t forget that.” – Councillor Ian Lindley, Mayor of North East Lincolnshire.

“If there’s one thing that truly symbolises what’s great about our town, Great Grimsby, it’s the mighty Ross Tiger. Happy 30th.” – Rob Walsh, chief executive of NELC.

Vital deck works

The original Borneo Pine decking to the ship, laid in 1956, required removal in its entirety to prevent the rotting timber from causing damaging corrosion to the sheet steel deck which lies beneath it.

The scheme, which started on Monday 5 September 2022, included removing the rotten timber deck to reveal the steel deck below which was then inspected, grit blasted and painted. Some of the timber was able to be removed for conservation and will return to the museum’s collection.

The work was one of the most significant pieces of maintenance work to take place during the historic vessel’s time at Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre. It reopened to the public in March this year.

Take a look back at the works that took place, including some facts about Ross Tiger, by visiting www.fishingheritage.com/ross-tiger-vital-deck-works

Ross Tiger reopens on 28 March. Group of people stand in front of the ship.

Other highlights

  • The Ross Tiger featured in Susan Calman’s Summer by the Sea series which saw her tour across the country enjoying what the UK has to offer. She climbed aboard the historic trawler with Ross Tiger’s former skipper, Dennis Avery. Dennis started his career at sea in 1959. He is thought to be the longest serving “Skipper” of the Ross Tiger, being the regular captain of the ship from 1975 until 1983. Overall, he clocked up an impressive 50 years at sea. He says that the Ross Tiger was the most capable ship he ever sailed in. There is nowhere in the world that he wouldn’t feel confident to take her. The programme aired on Channel 5 on Friday 25 August 2023, where Susan also had a go at stunt kite flying, took a ride on the Cleethorpes Coastal Light, and met up with her comedy hero Les Dennis.
  • Going back to 2022, the producers of Three Day Millionaire climbed aboard the ship to film. Ross Tiger features in the new film which debuted at Parkway Cinema in November 2022. The film was shot in Grimsby and based on the fishermen that once brought hauls of fish back to the town’s port.
  • The Ross Tiger also featured across American TV screens in 2022 as she was used in interviews with former skippers Dennis Avery and Bob Formby on the famous CBS News show, 60 Minutes. The show highlighted Grimsby’s transformation from “World’s Premier Fishing Port” to supporting the world’s largest offshore wind farm.

About the Ross Tiger GY398

Ross Tiger is the only surviving middle water side trawler in the UK. She worked out of Great Grimsby for almost 30 years and is now our oldest surviving diesel side trawler. Ross Tiger launched on 22 September 1956 and entered service in 1957. She was designed as an advanced modern trawler during Grimsby’s time as world’s premier fishing port.

Ross Tiger retired from fishing in 1984. The following year, she began working as an oil rig standby vessel with Cam Shipping. In 1992, Cam kindly gifted Ross Tiger to the town of Grimsby as a token payment of just £1. She was restored to her former trawling appearance and began a new life as a visitor attraction at Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre. She has stood proud ever since, visiting scores of people who have been able to experience what life at sea was really like.

Ross Tiger

Take a tour of the ship

Experience what it was really like to work onboard the Ross Tiger as a trawler guide (and often former fishermen) tells you about what life at sea was really like.

Here’s a sneak peek at what you can expect on one of the tours: Ross Tiger tour – YouTube

Find out more about the tours here: Tiger Tours – Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre

Take a free digital tour of the Ross Tiger

Immerse yourself in an exciting virtual experience, giving you the chance to explore the historic trawler, Ross Tiger, from wherever you are: Ross Tiger digital tour – Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre

The 3D replica of the ship allows you to see the iconic trawler in new ways, including areas usually hidden below the water line. Fun interactives allow you to start the propeller, operate the rudder, sound the whistle, or even belch smoke from the funnel. You then enter a fully interactive 3D walk through the ship. Along the way, you can meet the tour guides and former trawlermen and view archive images of the ship in action.

A screenshot of the Ross Tiger's virtual tour
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