1885 – The First Excelsior
The first Lowestoft sailing trawler to bear the name Excelsior and the number LT472 was built in 1885 by Samuel Allerton, a Lowestoft master boat builder. At the time he was building the first Excelsior he was aged about 55 and lived at 24 Denmark Road.
1919 – Rammed at sea !
The First Excelsior was badly damaged when she was struck by a Dutch fishing vessel in thick fog. She limped back to port but was so badly damaged that she could not sail again. Her owners immediately commissioned a new smack from Chambers & Co to carry the same name and registration number.
1921- The new Excelsior is built
The current Excelsior was built by Chambers & Co of Lowestoft at their Laundry Lane site off Commercial Road. Salvaged gear from the previous Excelsior was used in her fit out. She was one of the last sailing trawlers to be built.
1936 – The end of an era
With the rise of steam powered trawlers the use of sailing trawlers was drawing to a close . Excelsior was laid up on the beach in Hamilton Dock.
1937 Excelsior has a new life in Norway
Excelsior was sold to a Norwegian sailor called Bjorn Stensland. Stripped of her masts and with an engine and wheelhouse fitted she was renamed Svinor and became a trading vessel operating out of her new home port on the Island of Svinoy near Linderness in Norway.
1954 – Svinor changes hands
In 1954 Bjorn sold Svinor to two fellow Islanders Sverre and Ole Borufsen. They continued trading along the Norwegian coast with cement being the main cargo until their retirement in 1971.
1972 – Excelsior returns home
John Wylson bought Svinor and sailed her back to Lowestoft, arriving on 10th August 1972, to commence a thorough restoration in partnership with Mark Trevitt.
1983 The Excelsior Trust is born.
A huge amount of restoration work was achieved but the rebuilding task was still huge. It was decided to transfer the project to a Charitable Trust which was founded in 1983.
1988 – Excelsior Sails again !
Excelsior’s first sea trial after the rebuild took place in July 1988. She reached eight knots and two accompanying boats of photographers had to work hard to keep up.
July 1989 – Excelsior begins her Sail Training career.
With work still to do to complete the refit after the official commissioning ceremony, it was not until July 1989 when Excelsior was finally handed over to her first skipper – Mick Hart. Just in time to participate in her first Tall Ships event!
1997 – She can still fish!
On Monday 21st April 1997, Excelsior once again went on a fishing expedition for the first time in 58 years. As part of the Channel 4 Real History series the ship’s gear, trawl beam, nets and even the crew clothes and boots were recreated for a faithful re-enactment of sail trawling.
2021 – Centenary
Excelsior is looking forward to her 100th Anniversary. The centenary is to be celebrated with a “smack race”. Surviving sailing fishing boats have been invited to gather in Lowestoft in August 2021 for a traditional race to pit boats and crews against one another to demonstrate their sailing skills !