It became clear in 2003 that the annual maintenance process on Thalatta was no longer going to be able to keep her safe and sound for the future, and the trustees were faced with the choice of winding up the Trust, buying a replacement vessel or refurbishing Thalatta.
Clearly the last two options required substantial funds which the Trust did not have, so the trustees considered whether they could be found and concluded that only by approaching the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) could sufficient be obtained.
However, HLF would only consider a refurbishment programme not purchase of a replacement, so the options were resolved to one. A lengthy process of bidding for a Lottery grant was undertaken and HLF approval was given in 2005 for a project initially estimated at £527,500 and work began in 2006.
Once started, however, it became obvious that deterioration was far worse than the surveys had revealed and HLF was approached for a supplement of £196,500 – which was again approved – and the total project estimate rose to £1.1m, of which the Trust had to find 33% as matched funds.
By the time the project concluded, the Trust had managed to attract donations from a variety of generous benefactors, large and small, to add to the invaluable HLF grant. Without either the donations or the HLF grant, Thalatta would not have been refurbished.
The Restoration Gallery illustrates the scale of the restoration and the quality of the skills and materials employed. It is very rewarding to see these skills alive and well and capable of working on these traditional craft, even if they are in short supply.