Historic ship sails back into Doncaster

Tony and Sally Woodward outside their ship.
Tony and Sally Woodward outside their ship.

A historic ship sailed back to her Doncaster birthplace for the first time in decades on Saturday.

Daybreak, a cargo ship which plied her trade on the rivers between Doncaster and Hull prior to the Second World War, returned to Thorne on Saturday - the place where she was built exactly 80 years ago.

She then continued her journey up the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation Canal and to Doncaster Moorings, near the college, where she worked for more than 40 years. It is the first time in more than 30 years she has been back.

Daybreak was the last UK-built vessel powered purely by sail, and has been named the National Historic Ships Flagship for 2014.

To celebrate she is currently touring the East Coast and the waterways she used to serve carrying grain between Hull Docks and South Yorkshire, stopping off in towns and villages along the way to give people a glimpse of her before she returns to her home near London.

Doncaster-born skipper and owner of the Humber keel Tony Woodward said: “We have had a fantastic time and it is great to see the vessel return to her home. As we have been passing through South Yorkshire we have had so many people come up to us to say either they sued to work on the boar or at least one of their relatives did.

“We are happy to have restored her to her former glory. She means a lot to a lot of people.”

She was the last Humber keel built in the country, and her status earned her the flagship boat title for this year, an honour run each year where a single vessel is chosen to represent the society.

It is aimed at ships which are in operational condition and which raise their profile by attending public events and festivals.

Daybreak was bought by Mr Woodward, aged 62, and wife Sally, aged 63, both retired teachers, in 1979 and has since been converted into their home.

She has been cruising up and down the River Thames in London for the past three decades before embarking on her East Coast voyage in June.

She now has an engine and the former grain store has been converted to bedrooms. The vessel is normally moored at Staines-upon-Thames in Surrey.