The Centenary Restoration Project Begins
In 2003 it became clear that the annual maintenance process on Thalatta was no longer going to be able to keep her safe and sound for the future. The trustees were faced with the choice of either winding up the Trust, buying a replacement vessel or refurbishing Thalatta.
Refurbishment or replacement would require substantial funds which the Trust did not have, and the trustees concluded that only by approaching the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) could sufficient funds be obtained. However, HLF would only consider a refurbishment programme, not purchase of a replacement. 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.
Work began in 2006. At first it was intended to just replace the outer planking and the worst of the frames, but it soon became apparent a lot more needed to be done and in the end Thalatta’s hull was essentially completely rebuild and returned to an ‘as new’ condition, with only the original ‘floors’ (the bottom cross pieces of the frames) kept. The final cost was £1.1m, and 33% of this was raised by the Trust through fundraising and the very generous donations of benefactors large and small. Without either the donations or the HLF grant, Thalatta would not have been refurbished. More on the refurbishment project can be read here and a gallery of photos can be seen here.