The historic yacht, Señora is being restored to its former glory by a group of apprentices in Sunderland. They will be the first shipbuilding apprentices in the city for decades.

The Alfred Mylne designed Señora has arrived in Sunderland where apprentices will begin restoring the Edwardian yacht.

It is the first time in 30 years that shipbuilding apprentices have worked in the Pallion Shipyard on The Wear.

The project to restore Señora is being run by the Señora Trust and the north-east training company, Monumental Training.

So far, 18 apprentices in marine engineering are taking part in the programme, although a further six could be recruited shortly.

The chairperson of the trust, Kim Simpson said there is a long history of shipbuilding in Sunderland; the industry began on The Wear in 1349.

See pictures of Señora below

He said the last shipbuilding yard closed in 1988, and it was now time to revive this “great tradition”.

“The people of Sunderland are great people. There is a great heritage and tremendous history and a huge pool of skills that have been put on the scrapheap which is a crying shame. We wanted to do something about it,” stated Simpson.

In the space of ten days, £10,000 was raised by the trust. This has paid for the Señora, which last year was in danger of being scrapped.

Señora which is being refurbished by apprentices in Sunderland

Señora in all her glory

The apprentices will be assisted by welders and ex-shipbuilding workers in the area, as well as their instructors.

Simpson said a full survey still needs to be done on Señora, but he stressed the work “will be a renovation and not a rebuild”.

“The £10,000 raised covered the cost of the boat and wages, but we need to raise £50,000 for materials, tools and equipment,” he explained.

“Donations will be vital to help our first group of young people start her restoration and so begin their new careers in engineering and construction,” said Simpson.

“The money will pay for the high quality wood needed for her new deck and superstructure, winches, fittings, rigging, tools, navigation equipment, material for her training dinghies and spars,” he added.

The yacht’s original mahogany, brass and red leather interior will also be fully restored.

Built of larch on oak frames, Señora was a gentleman’s yacht.

The 50-foot long vessel was constructed in 1908 by Archibald Malcolm on the Isle of Bute in the north west of Scotland.

Señora which is being refurbished by apprentices in Sunderland

Señora will eventually be used as a sail training vessel

“Señora is a symbol, the flagship of the project,” explained Simpson.

“Her end use is significant to the north east and Sunderland, although the core of the project is the training and getting jobs for the apprentices,” he added.

Once restored, Señora, will become “the people’s yacht”.

The vessel will be berthed on The Wear, where the ship will be charted commercially as a sail training vessel. Profit from this will then provide free sail training to community groups and charities.

Four training dinghies will also be built by the apprentices. They will travel with Señora, making her “a floating sailing school”.

Simpson hopes the combination of both dinghy and yacht sailing will be a draw.

“You learn how to sail by using dinghies so the combination of dinghy and yacht sailing, we hope, will be quite attractive and unique,” he said.

Señora is expected to be completed in time to take part in Sunderland’s Tall Ships festival in July 2018.

Señora which is being refurbished by apprentices in Sunderland

The original sail plan

It is hoped the yacht will not be the only vessel the apprentices will get a chance to work on.

“We hope to get more building work,” said Simpson.

“We have a huge space at the Pallion Shipyard. It is the biggest dry dock in the country and is the size of a cathedral so we have a lot of capacity for doing work on boats.”

“We’re hoping people will bring their boats for repairs and maintenance. We can offer competitive prices as we’re using apprentices, but the work will all be done under the expert eyes of the instructors,” he stressed.

As well as an NVQ Diploma in Marine Engineering, the apprentices will also have the option to complete an NVQ in Wooden Yacht and Boat Building.

Simpson said placements within the industry will be found for the apprentices.