The SS Robin At Royal Victoria Dock

Currently sitting on top of a pontoon alongside the Millenium Mills in Royal Victoria Dock, the SS Robin is the third of the three ‘Core Collection’ (Grade 1) ships from the National Historic Fleet berthed in London (the other two being HMS Belfast and the Cutty Sark, both of which I have visited recently).

The SS Robin is an iron-hulled raised quarterdeck coastal cargo steamer – she was built at Thames Ironworks and commissioned in 1890, and is the last ship of her kind anywhere in the world. She spent the first 10 years of her life plying her trade along the British and French coastlines, ferrying goods between Liverpool, London, Le Havre and beyond, but in 1900 was sold to Spain. Renamed Maria, she now had a new home port – Bilbao on the northern coast. After spending over six decades working the coast of Spain she escaped the ignominious fate of many ships of her age, and instead of being broken up for scrap she was rescued, returning home to England in 1974 where a long restoration process began at Doust’s shipyard in Rochester.

ss robin royal victoria dock london

ss robin royal victoria dock london

The ship is currently undergoing final restoration work and some minor internal refitting so that she can open to the public in 2013. The SS Robin will then act as a floating museum and education space dedicated to her history and the cargo shipping trade – dramatic tableaus are also promised aboard, where actors will recreate the experiences of her crew. When ready, she will be moved over to a much more accessible spot on the other side of the Royal Victoria Dock next to the Emirates Air Line and the Crystal, although the website is currently silent on the date on which this will take place…