January to March 2005
21st March 2005 - 10:30
New Webmaster - Tony Goddard
||Usually, all the words written into the diary are Bill Smith’s. However, these ones aren’t they’re mine. That’s me on the left heading into uncharted waters (or is that plumbing new depths) with probably the first topless photo on the site. It was taken on an expedition I had the pleasure of leading in 2001 to… er, the Norfolk Broads.
Bill suggested I introduce myself with a diary entry, so here I am.
I can only heap praise on Alain, whose hard work brought the site to life in the first place, and promise to take good care of his baby. So, if anyone has website related questions/problems/comments/ideas feel free to mail me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
21st March 2005 - 15:30
Here we go again! We had a raft of pi**ed off people a couple of weeks ago when the HLF decided to send us away to think again and the reason we were all so annoyed is because we really thought we’d done all our homework and brought aboard the right people.
Paul and the gang at Jura did a tremendous job, they actually understand all the paperwork and innermost machinations of the HLF, and although we threw him an ambitious project, he was confident of being able to bring it to fruition.
Tim Parr, our naval architect, was appointed by Paul and a better man we couldn’t wish to have aboard. Tim’s experience is so broad that it includes working on John Cobb’s Crusader! He also oversaw the rebuild of the paddle steamer Waverley. The world’s last ocean-going paddle steamer, which was rebuilt from the keel to the mast tops with HLF money. Waverley wasn’t consigned to a museum when her life came to an end.
Despite the efforts of the Waverley Trust, the poor old girl was about finished and had the HLF applied the principles suggested by their ‘expert’ advisors for Bluebird, she’d now be laid up in some glorified ships’ graveyard as a static display for people to look at only. Instead, she was completely overhauled and brought back to full working order so people can feel the plates trembling beneath their feet, feel the heat of her engines and watch so much polished brass turning with smooth precision. Kids will be able to say ‘I’ve been on a paddle steamer’ for another hundred years due to the efforts of the HLF. My mother used to travel across the Clyde on Waverley to visit her granny, I’ve travelled on her and chances are that my kids will do likewise.
Have a look at www.pswaverley.org and what you’ll see is not some museum-type conservation exercise where they clean stuff with a rubber teaspoon and put it in a glass case. This is a major engineering endeavour with acres of new material and beautiful fabrication. The site has a diary page not dissimilar to our own where you can check out the miles of new pipe-work and in particular, have a look at those brand-new, state of the art boilers (reproduced with kind permission below). We’re not proposing anything so drastic for K7!
Anyway, enough ranting, the people involved in our bid are too numerous to mention but they include museum people, engineers, contractors and several members of the various councils and local government, which is why we were all so stunned when the thing went wrong.
Naturally, I immediately went in search of the problem but what I seem to have discovered surely cannot be true. You see, the decision seemingly turned on three reports compiled by ‘expert’ advisors appointed by the HLF to guide their committee.
I’m in the process of looking into this and will report in due course but according to my diary for the past three years I cannot discover that any of these advisors ever actually visited the wreck. Nor can I find any reference to any of them ever attending one of our numerous meetings. Worse still, I don’t even recall speaking to any of them or supplying detailed information of our proposals. I therefore ask the question, how the hell can they be ‘experts’?
Because it’s not possible to reliably comment on K7 until you’ve stood beneath that tail fin and felt the peculiar power that she still seems to possess. Those who have been here will know what I’m talking about. As I said, it surely cannot be the case that these people have not been very thorough in doing their homework. I’m assuming that an organisation as professional as the HLF would not allow themselves to be misled by ‘experts’ who have never even clapped eyes on the object about which they are being consulted. Especially on such a high profile project (don’t mention the dome!) So I’ve requested a whole bunch of paperwork from the HLF and will let you know but I’m hoping to find that these people did actually sneak in somewhere because it could have happened. Many people have been through the door and I may have missed something, hmmmm.
22nd March 2005 - 13:30
I wasn’t going to post anything today; I have to ease back into this gently. But I received a letter from the HLF today, which I read carefully and then read again. Next I phoned a few folk and read some bits out and finally I concluded that our application must have gone in with most of its pages missing.
As far as I can tell, those hundreds of pages compiled by myself and our naval architect, the x-rays, metallurgical surveys and numerous reports from aircraft restorers must have gone astray because it says in the letter.
HLF can only offer support to project applications which clearly demonstrate how they will conserve and enhance our diverse heritage…
So having demonstrated until we couldn’t demonstrate any further that virtually all of K7’s structure is in almost pristine condition and that we can replace practically everything recovered from the lake in a rebuilt Bluebird and that which isn’t suitable can be displayed anyway, I can only conclude that those pages went astray. As to whether this would ‘enhance our diverse heritage’, I cannot demonstrate that with digital, gamma radiography or sound engineering practice so I don’t claim to be able to answer that one with any authority. My gut feeling however, is that it ought to enhance our diverse heritage in some way or other because our diverse heritage is currently sitting in a darkened workshop gathering dust while they bugger about!
It goes on to say…
It is evident that the Bluebird is important to our heritage and has an urgent conservation need. However, the application did not demonstrate that the proposal to restore the vessel to full working order would be the most appropriate method for meeting this need.
Now there’s a contentious issue, at least it becomes contentious if you choose to totally disregard Gina’s wishes for her dad’s boat. On the other hand, if it’s simply a case of meeting the conservation need, then surely restoring every corner of K7 will leave her in tip-top condition for an indefinite period and as the plan is to conserve everything we have before building any new bits we imagined that we’d done enough.
Maybe that page fell out of our application too but the above paragraph is not the good one. The next one is a real corker. It says…
HLF can only offer support to project applications which clearly identify how the project will encourage more people to be involved in their heritage. It is clear that the museum benefits from the support of a committed and enthusiastic pool of volunteers. However, the application did not demonstrate how the project would create further opportunities for involving people in their heritage.
If anyone is reading this from the HLF, I’d like to say on behalf of the entire Bluebird Project that when the boat is finished and we put it in the museum…
We absolutely promise to open the doors and turn the lights on!
23rd March 2005 - 16:35
Here I am again, it’s a famine or a feast with me isn’t it. Once again I wasn’t going to post anything today but something came up.
Whilst searching the corridors of power for the missing pages from our application I was reminded of something.
I keep bitching about how the HLF let us get so far down the line before falling on their collective backside… Well I’m perhaps being a little harsh on them because it’s not strictly true. You see the last thing we needed was the wheel coming off and some smart-arse, armchair expert saying ‘I told you this would happen’, so we went in search of answers at an early stage, told the HLF of our proposals and asked for an early indication. Then the wheel came off anyway and the armchair experts said…
But that’s another tale, this is the reply we were given.
“The HLF would, in principle, look favourably upon a request for restoration to running order, providing that there were absolutely proper safety precautions in place, both for the safety of the pilot and the boat”
Now is that encouraging or what? So we ran off to demonstrate that we could do exactly this. Remember all the discussions with the Seattle Raceboat and Hydroplane Museum, and their quote that still sums it all up as far as I’m concerned? It appears here again for those of you who can’t be bothered to find it in the diary archive.
“When the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum first began restoring boats, we were faced with a choice. We could simply do cosmetic restorations, and make the boats look like they used to, or we could do full restorations and bring our heroes back to life. It was a difficult choice to make. Restoring the boats cosmetically would be easier and cheaper, but was it the right thing to do? Ultimately we realised that just doing a cosmetic restoration was like stuffing and mounting a bald eagle. You end up with something that looked like an eagle, but you learn nothing about flight, dignity or grace. You could teach people about the appearance of an eagle, but you could teach them nothing about the spirit of an eagle.” (David Williams, Director – Hydroplane & Raceboat Museum, Seattle)
The HLF also had the following to say at the same time.
They [The HLF committee] would, however, pay special attention to the amount of original material that would be incorporated in the restored boat. They would want to see as much of the original retained, but are not prepared to say what percentage they would require.
The above is more than fair and I’ll not bore you by repeating myself on the subject so off we went to build a proposal on that basis. So how come we hit a snag?
Best guess so far is that, like I said, half of the pages fell out of our application before it made it to the meeting so we’re not messing about changing anything. We’re going to borrow a stapler from Cumbria Council, run another copy off and have another go.
In the meantime, I have to get Predator back in the water for the coming season so no more updates until after the holidays.
||I went looking for a picture of Predator just in case anyone wasn’t sure what I was talking about, she’s our survey vessel and the boat on which Donald finally came ashore after 34 years in the lake. What I actually found was a picture of the salvage barge with predator tied alongside. You’ll also notice on the left a strange yellow duck with what seems to be a camera lens poking from it.
This image, entitled ‘Duck-Cam’ was presented to us by the photographers who lined the lake road waiting for action as we raised K7. They’d just got their hands on some clever picture editing software and were acting like kids with a new toy.
Had we come up with something so disrespectful at the time we’d have been pilloried for it, but they got away with it.
Have a good holiday.