The SS Explorer Preservation Society (SSEPS) organisation’s aim is, in the first instance, to restore Explorer to a condition in which she can fulfil a variety of uses based around her acting as a museum amongst the other Leith and River Forth maritime attractions. Once a technical survey of the ship is available, further restoration measures will be considered.
The SSEPS has members with specific ship repair/maintenance skills and some members who actually served on the vessel; these volunteers have worked hard over the years to hold back deterioration. However, the major restoration works will have to be carried out professionally, whilst these members continue to address some of the practical issues on board.
To support and realise what will be a complex and lengthy project, the EPS proposes to recruit volunteers to address and manage areas such as
• developing a robust organisation to manage the ship’s restoration and supporting activities
• refining the Society’s financial transparency and accountability
• researching and recording Explorer’s history and heritage
• gathering and conserving relevant artefacts
• establishing the ship’s position within the context of Leith’s other maritime heritage assets
• adapting the ship together with its history and artefacts as a museum
• investigation of how the ship can “earn its living” as a museum and a venue for sundry activities within the wider Forth estuary maritime heritage context
Plus two first steps absolutely essential to the ship’s survival
• pursuing dry docking, cleaning, painting and securing of the hull along with a comprehensive technical survey of all aspects of the ship
• securing a publically accessible berth in Leith docks
Obviously such a venture will require significant funds and the EPS must develop a credible organisation and working practices so that potential funders can have confidence in the Society’s management of the restoration programme.
The SS Explorer Preservation Society was formed in 1995, as a direct result of enthusiasts becoming aware of the SS Explorer being sold for scrap for a second time. Many seafarers and locals from the North East of Scotland in addition to several former crew members joined together and formed the Society which now owns and is currently restoring the SS Explorer to her former glory. The society has a constitution and is a registered Scottish Charity. Within this framework a Company Limited by Guarantee (Registered in Scotland No 156992) was formed responsible for the restoration project and management of the society through a board of approved directors. Sub-committees concerned with specific areas of refurbishment or upgrading are appointed and directed by the board as and when required.
It is the intention of the SS Explorer Preservation Society to restore the SS Explorer to become a symbol of Scotland’s engineering and scientific heritage.
The ship will be available for public viewing, educational and training purposes and for use for corporate events.
We aim to carry out such a restoration plan in phases:
- Phase 1 is to have the vessel cosmetically restored with missing artefacts replaced and damaged/deteriorated areas repaired. The ship will be prepared and accredited for use as a working-floating museum, rather like a steam railway workshop.
- Phase 2 of the project, will be to carry out various restorations of various pieces of machinery whilst the ship operates as a museum. This will include the overhaul of the main engine, boiler and auxiliaries so that, as far as possible, every piece of machinery on board is working.
The society is developing an educational outreach program using the history of the SS Explorer as an additional resource for maths, engineering, science, marine ecology, and social history.
The program will start with the “Navigating Maths with the SS Explorer” module which focuses on the calculations involved with planning, provisioning and navigating a voyage or research cruise similar to those that the SS Explorer undertook.
Students will work in roles and role play as the ships bridge team on a research cruise.
Currently, the society has enough equipment to run the module for groups of up to 9. We are seeking additional funding or partnerships to allow the module to run for full classes, run teacher training events and develop kits which can be sent to schools nationwide.
The Board (Under Construction (Still!))
Andy Marjoribanks Chairman
On leaving school at the age of 15yrs gaining the Edinburgh School Leaving Certificate I was taken on as an apprenticed refrigeration and air conditioning engineer and served my time servicing and installing equipment from small domestic units up to deep freezes which were large enough to drive a truck into.
When I was 23yrs I decided to study for the ‘O’ Levels I didn’t do when I was at school. It was a surprise to me that I passed but they allowed me to go back into ‘formal education’ and I enrolled in Stevenson College to get my Highers which subsequently allowed me to go on to The University of Edinburgh where I gained an Honours Degree in Politics and History.
In 1978 I enrolled in Moray House/ Univ Edinburgh for a year gaining a Certificate and Diploma in Education. From there I worked as a teacher of History and Modern Studies for 3yrs and then moved into a school which specialised in teaching children with additional support needs working my way up through Senior Teacher to Depute and acting HT in that school. I then applied and won a position as HT in a highly specialised and therapeutic centre in Edinburgh.
Since starting teaching I was also involved in SCUBA diving and became a Regional Instructor with the Scottish Sub-Aqua Club till I reached the grand old age of 60yrs.
When I retired from teaching at 63yrs I was looking for something to do and the SS Explorer was pointed out to me by my son. I decided to pop along to see what was going on and have been pitching up ever since.
In 2016 I was elected onto the Board and, because I wasn’t smart enough to step back as quickly as the rest of the Directors, I was left standing at the front and took on the role of Chairperson.
The biggest part of this role is to build a credible organisation that our future funders can have confidence in because the truth to be told is, that given the number of volunteer hours we put in along with limited access to tools and major facilities such as a dry dock, all we can really hope to do is maintain the condition of the Explorer till we have the majority of the work done in a shipyard. Our real task is to build an organisation that can handle a project that will cost in the region of £3,000,000. My scary job is to manage that task which can only be done with the backing of our committed team of volunteers.
Allan Dickson Vice Chairman
I am a qualified Class 2 combined motor and steam engineer, with a Masters Degree in marine surveying. Currently I work as a Second Engineer in the Merchant Navy, although I spend 5 years project managing shipyard work in South East Asia. I volunteer with the SS Explorer when on leave, and do paperwork in between my normal shift hours . I have previously volunteered onboard the PS Waverley, TS Tenacious & TS Stavros S Nicharos but I was pleased to find a historic ship on my doorstep.
Jim Duff Director
Before joining the Explorer as a volunteer, I had a varied career.
Baker, then Senior Inspector in the Quality Control Dept. of George Ballantine, Whisky Distillers.
A new direction saw me working 18 years in the offshore oil and gas industry.
I worked in galleys on rigs, platforms and ships.
I found out about the SS Explorer from a shop window poster here in Leith after I retired.
I have been a member now for 7 years.
John Teasdale Director
I spent my working life as an HR professional in the retailing, catering and Financial Services sectors. I have always also had a strong desire to ‘give back’ to the community and have had roles in many organisations on a voluntary basis. Over the year this has led to a number of Trustee / Director roles with 3rd sector organisations and has given me detailed knowledge of governance and effective administration of a charity. I was invited to join the Board of the SSEPS in 2018 and readily agreed as I believes that the restoration and preservation of the SS Explorer is an extremely worthwhile enterprise securing an important part of our maritime heritage. ‘
Colin Williamson Engineer/director
This ugly mug spent 13 years at sea as a marine engineer with Shell Tankers (UK) Ltd obtaining first class certificates of competency on steamships and motorships. I recently retired from a subsequent career as an airline pilot thus freeing up time to indulge myself in the SS Explorer. I am a member of the board and involve myself heavily with the physical preservation of the ship and developing and maintaining this website.