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19th century steamship ‘hulk’ granted protection

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The ‘hulk' of 19th century iron steamship Lady Alice Kenlisdesigned by the same shipwright as the Cutty Sark, has been granted protection by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on the advice of Historic England.

The partially dismantled ship – referred to as a ‘hulk’ rather than a shipwreck, as there has been no wrecking event – lies in the intertidal zone of the River Deben in Woodbridge, East Suffolk. Protection by scheduling will ensure that the hulk of the ship will be protected by law .

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The eerie remains of the hulk of the steamship Lady Alice Kenlis

Relationship to the Cutty Sark

The Lady Alice Kenlis was designed by Hercules Linton in 1867, the same designer of the internationally renowned Cutty Sark, launched two years later in 1869.

The Cutty Sark was a state-of-the-art Victorian tea clipper, a type of 19th century merchant sailing vessel designed specifically for speed. It was one of the fastest of its time, making the journey from Sydney to London by sail in 73 days.

The hulk of the Lady Alice Kenlis is important in our understanding of early iron ships, and its relationship to the Cutty Sark offers an insight into Linton’s evolution of thought.

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The steamship Lady Alice Kenlis semi-submerged

History of the Lady Alice Kenlis

The Lady Alice Kenlis was built by J&R Swan in Maryhill, Glasgow and launched on 23 December 1867. The hull was heavily built in comparison to other iron ships of the time to allow it to be more easily loaded and unloaded in shallow waters.

Serving as a cargo ship in 1868, it was used to carry cattle, goods and passengers between Northern Ireland, Scotland and England. It was briefly used as a ferry, later re-registered as the Holman Sutcliffe and converted into a suction dredger in 1913.

The vessel continued as a dredger until it was partially dismantled in the late 1930s or early 1940s.

“While only the rather ghostly remains of the Lady Alice Kenlis survive, it deserves protection as an important part of our seafaring history. Being able to see the hulk of the ship itself emerging from the intertidal zone of the River Deben is striking and unusual,” said Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive, Historic England.

“The hulk of the Lady Alice Kenlis, resting in the River Deben, offers us an important insight into the work of Hercules Linton, who – as the designer of the Cutty Sark – became one of the most notable shipwrights of the 19th century. I am delighted that this important piece of our national heritage has been given protected status so that it can be preserved for generations to come,” said Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay, Arts and Heritage Minister.

Photo credit: Historic England

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Mark Evans
Mark Evans
Scuba Diver's Editorial Director Mark Evans has been in the diving industry for nearly 25 years, and has been diving since he was just 12 years old. nearly 40-odd years later and he is still addicted to the underwater world.
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