Thursday, 30 June 2016

What's happening to Peggy?

A number of people have asked us lately about Peggy and what is happening to her. Since she was removed from her boat cellar in January last year she's not been on show She's still sitting tight in her conservation facility in Douglas. So what are we actually doing?
Our conservator, Christopher Weeks, has been working hard over the last year to finish building the conservation facility around her so that it now has an office and a toilet! At the same time he has been analysing Peggy with the help of a variety of specialist technical experts. He has now a treatment programme designed to arrest further decay and preserve Peggy for future generations. Most importantly his proposals have been discussed with our peers at National Historic Ships UK, Mary Rose Trust and others, and we now have a clear mandate to proceed.
The first intervention will be to address Peggy's rusted iron nails. They'll be removed one by one and each in turn will be replaced with a timber peg made of pine. This operation will take a long time - possibly as long as two years - and will be costly. Manx National Heritage will have to ensure funds are in place and that there is a team with experience of working on comparable projects available to do the work at a competitive rate. Christopher will be undertaking pilot trials to fix on the exact method we'll use. He'll be able to project the real cost of the job so we can seek funding. It'll take a while to get all this lined up - watch this space for further developments as they arise. 

Monday, 14 March 2016

Peggy Technical Committee Meeting

Last week we were fortunate enough to host a meeting of the Peggy Technical Committee, a group we have set up to advise and inform us on her conservation. The input of professionals with a broad and profound knowledge of comparable projects is really important to us. Conservation Projects in the UK (which this isn't) that attract charitable grant funding from the National Heritage Lottery Fund or other comparable bodies (which it cannot) would generally expect this level of 'peer review' to be visited upon them. Despite our relative isolation we want to 'get it right' at every level (documentation, analysis, diagnosis, remedial work, presentation), and we are aiming for an exemplary standard in every area. Obviously this will not be easy, but we have behind us the good-will of our colleagues, the support of our Trustees and the keen interest of local politicians and the general public, so we are off to a great start.

John Kearon (shipwright and conservator), Charles Barker (Mary Rose Archaeological Services) and Martyn Heighton (Chair, National Historic Ships UK) generously gave up two days from their busy schedules to visit Peggy on the Isle of Man and discuss the issues we face. Broadly these include:
1. Have we correctly diagnosed Peggy's state of conservation?
2. Is what we are proposing reasonable and proportionate?
3. Is our plan for eliminating Peggy's rusted fixings feasible and proportionate?
4. Do we need to remove the modern over-paint from Peggy?
5. How dry does she need to be to save her?
6. What are the risks of drying her and how can we lessen them?
7. How should we eventually display her?

Here are some photographs of us on the day.....

L-R Martyn Heighton, John Kearon & Charles Barker
The three visitors inspect Peggy's original keel

Matthew Richardson, Chris Weeks and Edmund Southworth from MNH
The Committee were broadly supportive of our approach but certainly keen to challenge us on the detail. I really enjoyed the day we spent together and learned an enormous amount. With respect to those outstanding issues we moved on quite a bit in the course of our discussions. The proposal to remove Peggy's nails was unanimously agreed upon, and trials will commence this summer. A further matter upon which our experts were adamant is that Peggy should be displayed with her masts up. The implications of this will need to be taken into account when, in due course, we commission an architect to look at issues and options for display (a very tall building would be required).

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Timber analysis now in

Thanks to Hutton+Rostron* I now have in front of me a report on their analyses of Peggy's timbers. This is an extract from their moisture content survey

Hutton+Rostron Peggy Survey, January 2016

If you enlarge the picture you should see that Peggy is apparently very wet (especially at the stern, where she was most often wetted by the tide)! However, because she is so salty, these readings must be tempered down a bit.
H&R also mapped the fungal and insect damage, as well as positively identifying all the timber types:

Peggy timber types, after H+R
Anyway, all this data tells us how much we need to dry Peggy to arrest further rusting, salt damage, fungal decay, insect attack and paint loss (phew!). This is really important because we do NOT want to dry her any more than we have to.

* Hutton+Rostron, Netley House, Gomshall, Guildford, Surrey, GU5 9QA. 01483 203221;

Monday, 25 January 2016

Things we didn't know before

We lately received the results of paint analysis of Peggy and of George Quayle's cabin room in Peggy's boathouse. Crick Smith, the company undertaking the analyses, has done a great job and come up with some super results.
The paint layers confirm that Peggy and the cabin room were built at the same time as each other, and that the same paint was used on both so that one echoed the other. It would appear that in the 1790's Peggy was painted a creamy colour on the hull exterior, with the rubbing strakes (thin timber bands down each side) picked out in black. The lower part of the hull (under the water) was tarred black. There was a thick, green band running around the top and across the transom (the decorative board at the back of the boat). It was on top of this that the gilded lettering 'PEGGY' was applied. The cream/ green/ black colour scheme was used in the cabin room. Inside the boat, the bilges (below the water line) were tarred black and the rest of the interior was a bright, deep red.
In or around 1802 George modified Peggy by making her taller. He repainted her at this time in a dark-yellow ochre paint with black highlights. Again, the decor in the cabin room was changed to compliment the boat. We can also see that, contrary to received opinion, George continued to use Peggy in her modified form for up to eight seasons, until no later than 1810. As soon as I can I'll post some mock-ups so you can see how she would have looked. Crick Smith are also helping me investigate the safest and most effective means of removing the modern over paint from Peggy.

Meanwhile, this week we have researchers from UK consultancy Hutton & Rostron inspecting Peggy. They are going to report on her timbers: what species of wood are they and what kinds of decay have they suffered? They'll also help devise a strategy for drying Peggy safely .

Monday, 30 November 2015

Schools meet Peggy

The past few weeks we have been opening the doors of the Peggy Conservation Facility to members of the public and to school groups. About 200 of the former and 100 of the latter. Now that Peggy is unboxed and the Conservation Facility is completed (including toilet - "for this relief much thanks" as the Bard put it)*, things are beginning to happen at long last.
Here are some photographs of Chris Weeks entertaining the troupes.

Students from Michael School are introduced to Peggy

The children inspect the sliding keel slots
It's not very warm in there...

"Count the colours"
The kids discuss the paint cross sections

Vocation missed....

* Pedants' corner: Hamlet (1.1.10), Francisco to Barnardo

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Action at last!

In January 2015 Peggy was moved to her new conservation facility in Douglas on the Isle of Man. In anticipation of further work on that building, she was boxed-up in an environmentally conditioned container, and that's exactly where she has stayed since. 
The good news is that we at Manx National Heritage have been far from idle in the intervening 7 months, planning the upcoming stages of the yacht's stabilisation and preservation. Finally, too, this week we have local fabricators Wilson and Collins Ltd. building the partition that will create the workshop enclosure for Peggy, along with a mezzanine office and viewing platform.

New workshop steel-work goes in

Peggy in the background (boxed). The office wall, at the moment, is missing!

 As soon as W&C are finished we can deploy the humidification plant in the workshop and un-box Peggy into an atmosphere that will prevent her from drying for the time being. It looks likely that we'll need to do most of the work on Peggy in an atmosphere fairly dripping with moisture. Heigh-ho. 

My wild flower planting outside the workshop brightens up the industrial state a little 

Wednesday, 25 February 2015