Out & About
Outing to Admiralty water carrier 'Freshspring' at Bideford
18 June 2018
The outing was arranged jointly with the Merchant Navy Association Bristol Branch. Seventeen Society members attended, the coach setting off from our new meeting venue, the Royal British Legion Club at Whitchurch. Sadly we were held up by what must have been a serious accident on the North Devon Link Road, necessitating a picturesque diversion along quiet Devon lanes and a slightly delayed arrival at Bideford. The coach driver's successful efforts to turn around on a road that seemed no wider than the length of the coach itself was met with a spontaneous round of applause.
The Freshspring was built in 1946 and is 121ft in length and powered by a triple expansion steam engine. She spent most of her working life at Malta supplying water to Royal Navy ships, before returning to the Clyde working from Greenock until she was sold out of service in 1979. After a period in Bristol docks she was laid up on the River Severn before being towed to Bideford for restoration.
After appropriate refreshments the party boarded Freshspring to inspect this interesting vessel. Signs of progress were everywhere, including a splendid new wooden wheelhouse, an exact replica of the original lost when the ship was laid up at Bristol. The Engine Room appeared to be in first class condition and a magnet for those interested in such classic steam age machinery. Good progress had clearly been made and we were impressed by the enthusiasm and knowledge of the volunteer guides who give up their time to show visitors around the ship. Some of our number explored the town of Bideford, and it was then time for the journey home, all having had a very enjoyable day out.
Thanks go to the Freshspring Society, to whom we wish every succes in restoring the ship to a seagoing condition. For anyone interested in the ship or joining the Society do visit their website - www.ssfreshspring.co.uk .
2 July 2018