Rigging work on RRS Discovery led by Broughty man

Discovery Point
Discovery Point

A Broughty Ferry-based maritime consultant has been overseeing a rigging project on RRS Discovery in Dundee, as the historic ship undergoes vital work.

John Watson explained that 25 tonnes and 2.5 kilometres of masts, spars, rope and bowsprit have been moved in recent weeks.

This is the first time the ship has gone through this process in 24 years. Ropes, masts, spars and bowsprit - some of the pieces more than 90 years old - were transported to a shipyard in Gloucester,

The company responsible, T. Nielsen & Company, is a world specialist in repairing and restoring historic ships.

The work is part of a wider restoration move by Dundee Heritage Trust. The Trust launched a crowd funding campaign five weeks ago to pay for vital reregistration and preservation work to the masts and rigging, with the campaign reaching its target of £40,000 on November 29 - a day before the deadline.

John Watson, who was part of the team that was instrumental in getting RRS Discovery back to Dundee in 1986, said: “This has been painstaking work which could only have been done by specialists. Nielsen are leaders in their field and we’ve all been impressed by how efficiently they’ve worked.

“We’ve removed 25 tonnes and 2.5 kilometres of masts, spars, rope and bowsprit, some of which date back more than 90 years. Now it’s on to the next step of cleaning and repair.”

More than 200 backers supported the crowdfunding campaign to pay for vital restoration and preservation work to the masts and rigging of Discovery, which famously took Captain Robert Falcon Scott and crew to the Antarctic for a voyage of scientific exploration.

Paul Jennings, executive director of Dundee Heritage Trust, acknowledged that putting Discovery’s fate in the hands of the public was risky.

However, he said he was always sure of the support of the iconic ship, which was built in Dundee.

Paul Jennings said: “On behalf of Dundee Heritage Trust I would like to extend my sincere thanks to everyone who pledged money, both in Dundee and further afield. The support we’ve had has been amazing and the fact that we hit it early and that pledges are still coming in is fantastic.

‘‘Not only does it enable us to carry out this important work on the ship, but it proves how dear RRS Discovery is to people, particularly in her home city.”