Measuring 23.5 metres long with a 6 metre beam and a draught of 3 metres, Excelsior LT472 was built en spec by John Chambers of Lowestoft in 1921. She was purchased by a local consortium to replace their 1885 smack that had been condemned after a collision with a steamer in foggy weather.In 1935 Excelsior was sold to Bjørn Stensland of Norway and converted to a motor coaster. She survived the war, despite a near miss from a British air attack! Later she was sold on to Sverre and Ole Borrüfsen of Svinor, near Mandal which was her port of registry.
In 1971 John Wylson bought her and the following year sailed her back to Lowestoft, where he went into partnership with Mark Trevitt to restore her back to sail. The pair spent the next few years replacing Excelsior’s framing and in 1983 formed the Excelsior Trust to complete the restoration using work experience students, many of whom found full-time employment after their training.
By 1988 the restoration of Excelsior was complete. It had taken four years and many hours of work by all involved to get the deck back to ‘as built’ condition and fit out the area below to modern standards. HRH The Princess Royal commissioned Excelsior as a sail training ship on 5th August 1988.
1989 was an exciting year for Excelsior. Firstly, she circumnavigated most of Britain before starting sail training. She then entered her first Cutty Sark Tall Ships Race under skipper Mick Hart and was also the subject of an episode of Anglia TV’s Sailaway series.
In the late 1990s Excelsior’s past was revisited when she trawled again under skipper Stuart White. The process of recreating the gear and traditional clothing for the crew was the subject of a 55 minute programme by Channel 4 in their series: “The Real History Show”. It was broadcast in 2000 under the title “Fish and Ships”.
In 2006 National Historic Ships rated Excelsior as one of the nation’s 60 most important historic vessels. Today she is proudly part of the National Historic Fleet of vessels ‘of pre-eminent national or regional significance’.
Between 2005-10 Excelsior was chartered by the Cirdan Sailing Trust to provide sail training for disadvantaged young people. She returned back to the Trust in 2011.
Excelsior requires constant maintenance to keep her seaworthy. From new masts to engine repairs, we never know what she will need next! You can now contribute to her maintenance fund by donating via Paypal. Click on the link below to donate. Thank you!