Vital works to the deck of the historic trawler Ross Tiger began on Monday 5 September 2022.
The ship reopened to the public on Tuesday 28 March 2023 following some of the most significant maintenance work to take place during the historic vessel’s time at Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre.
The original Borneo Pine decking to the ship, laid in 1956, required removal in its entirety to prevent the rotting timber from causing damaging corrosion to the sheet steel deck which lies beneath it.
The steel deck was cleaned and inspected before being repainted.
A number of condition reports and a conservation management plan were commissioned by Beckett Rankine Marine Consulting Engineers of London. These documents have allowed for the museum team to prioritise the most urgent works to the vessel and to plan future works as funding allows.
North East Lincolnshire Council, which owns Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre, is currently looking into funding options to allow for new timber decking to be reinstated to restore the deck to its original appearance.
Some of the original timber that remains in good condition has been preserved and conserved in the museum collection.
Follow the progress of the works below:
Who will be carrying out the works?
The works are being led by North East Lincolnshire Council’s delivery partner, EQUANS, alongside Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre, Beckett Rankine Marine Consulting Engineers, Coopers Painting Contractors Grimsby, R & N Services, York Archaeology, Bacon Engineering Ltd and Hurst Conservation.
Before the works began:
The rotting timber was in need of attention as can be seen in these photos on the left.
About Ross Tiger GY398:
Ross Tiger is the only surviving middle water side trawler in the UK. She worked out of Great Grimsby for almost 30 years and is now our oldest surviving diesel side trawler. Ross Tiger launched on 22 September 1956 and entered service in 1957. She was designed as an advanced modern trawler during Grimsby’s time as world’s premier fishing port.
A dangerous occupation:
Fishing is still seen as our most dangerous peacetime occupation. Today, Ross Tiger is a fitting tribute to the hard work and dedication of Grimsby’s brave fishing pioneers.
Ross Tiger’s retirement:
Ross Tiger retired from fishing in 1984. The following year, she began working as an oil rig standby vessel with Cam Shipping. In 1992, Cam kindly gifted Ross Tiger to the town of Grimsby as a token payment of just £1. She was restored to her former trawling appearance and began a new life as a visitor attraction at Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre.
Monday 5 September to Friday 9 September:
York Archaeology were on site for a week to remove some of the wood which was in a condition to be conserved. They will carry out conservation work before returning it to us to be stored in the museum collection. York Archaeology have worked on historic vessels around the country, including the Mary Rose.
Friday 9 September:
Some of the timber, which has not completely rotten, goes to York to be preserved where it will eventually come back to us to be put into the museum collection.
Monday 26 September:
K & I Scaffolding & Access Ltd have started installing scaffolding on the Ross Tiger. The scaffolding and wrap to the deck area will provide a covered working space for when the next phase of works begin.
Tuesday 27 September:
BBC Radio Humberside came down to visit us and hear all about the Ross Tiger. Former skipper and trawler guide Dennis Avery and operations manager for Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre David Ornsby were up bright and early for their live interview on the breakfast show. Dennis discussed his memories of almost a decade as Captain of Ross Tiger and the importance of her preservation.
Wednesday 28 September:
Take a sneak peek inside as K & I Scaffolding & Access Ltd continue on site and are making progress on the scaffolding and wrap of the ship.
Thursday 29 September:
The scaffolding continues to go up, with the white wrap covering the ship.
‘Life was good. You worked hard, you played hard.’
Dennis started his career at sea in 1959. He is thought to be the longest serving “Skipper” of the Ross Tiger, being the regular captain of the ship from 1975 until 1983. Dennis retired as master of a supply boat in the Douglas Oil Field in 2009, giving him a total of 50 years at sea.
“When I left school in 1957, the fishing industry was in its heyday. And when you left school, you only really had two choices. You either went to sea or you worked on the Docks. Everybody in the town, some way or another, was connected with the fishing industry.”
He says that the Ross Tiger was the most capable ship he ever sailed in. There is nowhere in the world that he wouldn’t feel confident to take her.
‘Over the moon’ Ross Tiger is being preserved, says Dennis
“I’m over the moon because I for one with a lot of others in the town, think the Ross Tiger should be preserved and must be preserved. There’s no should about it really. It must be preserved for the heritage of the town,” said Dennis on BBC Radio Humberside.
“She’s peaceful. She’s done her job and now she needs to stand there as a tribute to all the people who have gone to sea and the ones that didn’t come back. It must be preserved.”
Explore Ross Tiger from the comfort of your home!
Remember, even though the ship is currently closed, there is a free, digital tour of Ross Tiger available on our website for you to enjoy from wherever you are.
Watch videos of our very own trawler guides in this virtual experience as you enter a fully interactive 3D walk through the ship, allowing you to see the iconic trawler in new ways, including areas usually hidden below the water line.
Monday 3 October:
It’s all hands on deck (pardon the pun!) as R & N Services Ltd remove rotten timber from the Ross Tiger, along with any other items and debris – all in preparation for sand blasting of the steel decking in a few weeks.
Here’s company director Nigel Stinson getting stuck in!
Monday 3 October:
A section of the starboard side foredeck, revealing the riveted plate steel deck from beneath the timber for the first time since 1956.
‘Ross Tiger is a tribute to the thousands we lost at sea’
“The team at Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre are delighted to be able to advance these crucial works to the Ross Tiger to help prevent further corrosion to the ship’s decking.
“The Ross Tiger is a tribute to the thousands of Grimsby fishermen that lost their lives in our most dangerous peacetime occupation, helped feed our nation and brought about a national dish. We hope that she will go on telling her story for many years to come.”David Ornsby, Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre operations manager.
Wednesday 5 October:
Work continues to remove the rotten timber from Ross Tiger’s deck. Here’s EQUANS project manager Richard Ashley, Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre operations manager David Ornsby, and R & N Services company director Nigel Stinson.
All hands on deck:
R & N Services company director Nigel Stinson removes some of the rotten timber from Ross Tiger’s deck.
Length: 127.6 feet
Depth: 15 feet
Fish Room Capacity: 8,500 cubic feet
Crew: 12 men for middle water fishing, 14 men for deep water fishing
Trips were between 12 to 15 days. Summer trips to distant water may take up to three weeks.
More than 7,000 have lost their lives on Grimsby fishing vessels.
32 Grimsby ships were lost at sea in the 1950s.
Fancy a little read?
Read all about how the works and what is planned next by clicking here.
‘One of the last remaining trawlers of its kind’
“The Ross Tiger is one of the last remaining trawlers of its kind. The men that worked on these ships, because of age, are diminishing, so it’s vitally important that the Ross Tiger is preserved and the story of the lives of fishermen is passed on to the next generations.”Bob Formby, former skipper, with a career of over 50 years at sea.
Friday 7 October:
Works are progressing well on the ship as R & N Services continue working to remove the rotten timber from the deck. All timber decking has been removed from starboard side and 90 per cent of the port side front timber decking has been removed. Old pipes have also been revealed on the port and starboard side.
‘She is Grimsby’
Here is a lovely photo of Gill Ross and the late Jim Sheader, the first skipper of Ross Jaguar – Ross Tiger’s sister ship.
Mrs Ross, Chairwoman of the Fishermen’s Mission, said: “I’m so pleased to see that work has begun as Ross Tiger is such a special ship. Not only to my late husband and family, but to Grimsby itself. She is Grimsby. She’s as iconic as the Dock Tower. We need to have her here for many more years to ensure that future generations can experience what it was really like to be on a Grimsby trawler”.
Ross Tiger was owned by Ross Group and John Ross, Gill’s late husband, was Chairman of the group.
Monday 10 October:
The trawl netting display has been removed from the starboard side of the ship to make way for the sand blasting in the coming weeks.
Tuesday 11 October:
R & N Services are in their final days of removing the rotten timber from the deck. The last section of timber has been removed from the front port side.
‘When you step aboard, you are stepping into history’
“Ross Tiger is the most historically significant object in the museum collection. Museum objects help us to understand our heritage. We preserve and display objects because they tell a story of a time and place. They connect us with the past and its people in ways that cannot be replicated by photographs or books.
“No museum object connects us to Grimsby’s proud fishing heritage quite like Ross Tiger. When you step aboard, you are stepping into history. You are literally walking in the footsteps of countless men who worked tirelessly to help build the fishing industry. Everything you see and touch on Ross Tiger tells a story. The historical and emotional bond between her and the community is overwhelming. This is why the work we are undertaking is so important.”Louise Bowen, collections officer at Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre.
Friday 14 October:
Beckett Rankine have been on site today, inspecting the Ross Tiger and testing the steel deck.
Inspections show initial findings are ‘promising’
Beckett Rankine Naval Architect Mark Thomas and his colleague Mauricio Jove Recoder completed an inspection on the newly uncovered steel decking to Ross Tiger today. Seen here with former skipper Bob Formby. The initial findings were ‘promising’, but a better understanding will be had once the sand blasting, second inspection and final report are completed.
Friday 21 October:
R & N Services Ltd, of Grimsby, have left the site. They spent two weeks removing the rotten timber from the deck, along with any other items and debris – all in preparation for sand blasting of the steel decking by Coopers Painting Contractors, of Grimsby, which will begin the week commencing 31 October.
Visit the museum this October half term
Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre is a great place to visit with the family and spend a few hours taking a look around the museum. Even though Ross Tiger is currently closed, you can still enjoy the main attraction, take a look in the gift shop or grab a bite to eat in our cafe.
Thursday 27 October:
Bacon Engineering of Grimsby were on site again today. They have made Ross Tiger a new set of hatch bars to help seal the hatches and are also on hand for any steel repairs as we prepare for the sand blasting of the decks.
Monday 31 October:
Coopers Painting Contractors Ltd, of Grimsby, prepare to start work on the Ross Tiger as they arrive on site this morning. This week, they will be sand blasting the steel deck which has been revealed following the removal of the original timber deck which was rotten.
Tuesday 1 November:
Coopers Painting Contractors Ltd are well underway with the sand blasting of the steel deck.
Wednesday 2 November:
Coopers Painting started to dry and prepare the deck from the starboard quarter up to the trawl winch. The deck was then blasted to clean away corrosion, revealing the riveting and wonderful looking steel plate beneath. The blast material is cleaned away and a coat of protective paint immediately applied. A busy day, but what a difference to our Ross Tiger!
Monday 7 November:
All sand blasting works are complete, the first coat of holding primer is in place to the port and fish deck areas. The deck is now ready for a clean down.
Tomorrow, Beckett Rankine will be back on site to carry out another deck inspection following the blasting and painting. Coopers Painting Contractors Ltd will be doing the other coats of paint over the next few days.
Thursday 10 November:
The painted steel deck is looking rather impressive!
Thursday 17 November:
The major renovation works to the Ross Tiger deck are now complete. The rotten timber has been removed and the steel deck beneath has been sand blasted and painted. The scaffolding which has formed a wrap around the ship over recent weeks is starting to be dismantled. Work continues to make the ship ready for public access again. Keep following this page and our social media channels to find out when she will be reopening.
Monday 27 February:
Exciting news! After a break, work has re-started on Ross Tiger in preparation for the installation of the walkway. The main work to the walkway on Ross Tiger has started today. Once this work is complete, we’ll be able to reopen the historic trawler and welcome the public again. We cannot wait to get you back onboard.
Monday 1 March:
The port temporary walkway has been installed across main deck.
Friday 3 March:
There is just one more section (known as the port quarter) to be completed before the temporary walkway is finished on the historic Ross Tiger. After which, a health and safety inspection will be carried out by council officials to ensure we can safely reopen our fantastic ship to you all once again.
And, we’re open!
The historic trawler Ross Tiger has reopened to the public after months of vital deck works.
The scheme, which started on Monday 5 September 2022, included removing the rotten timber deck to reveal the steel deck below which was then inspected, grit blasted and painted. Some of the timber was able to be removed for conservation and will return to the museum’s collection.
Read the article here.
Come and see us!
From April, we’ll be open an hour long as we start our summer opening times. Visit us Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm.
Tours of Ross Tiger start at 11am, 12pm and 2pm and are subject to availability and booked on a first come first served basis. Find out more here.
No pre-booking is required for the museum.