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Historic vessels Knocker White and Varlet set sail to new home at Trinity Buoy Wharf

14 November 2016

Two historic vessels, acquired by the Museum of London Docklands in the 1980s, are moving to a new home under new ownership.

The vessels, Knocker White and Varlet, will be relocating to Trinity Buoy Wharf where they will be repaired and restored, put on public display and could even be part of future river festivals and apprenticeship schemes. Their move comes as part of the museum’s rationalisation of its floating vessel collection; two have been transferred in recent years (one to a local group and one to the National Trust) and Knocker White and Varlet are the last ones to be rehomed.

Following guidelines set out by the Museums Association and National Historic Ships UK, a new owner was found and their future secured. Both vessels will be moved overnight (on Monday 14 November) in a complex operation with each move potentially taking up to seven hours depending on the tides.

Sharon Ament, Director of the Museum of London, who will be present during the move to say farewell, said:

“We’re really pleased these two historic vessels, which have been part of our collection for 30 years, have found a great and appropriate new home. The team at Trinity Buoy Wharf are extremely well placed to care for and make the most of Varlet and Knocker White as part of their vibrant creative programme. I am looking forward to seeing them in their new environment contributing to the story of London’s Port in a more powerful way.”

Eric Reynolds, Founding Director of Urban Space Management, said:

“We are very pleased to be able to add to the preservation of London’s maritime heritage. At Trinity Buoy Wharf we have Faradays experimental lighthouse, a fine lightship, and an example of the type of Thames lighter that would have been rowed on the tide as far up river as Brentford. The river Thames was the commercial mainspring of London until the docks closed in the early 1970s and we are proud to be able to be able to show some of the traditional craft that kept goods moving on this great river”.

Vessel details:

Knocker White (due to be moved on14 November) was built for Harrisions (London) Lighterage Ltd in 1924 by T.Van Duijvendijk at Scheepswerk Lekkerkek, Netherlands. She was launched on 23rd May 1924 and named Carnrock. In 1962 she was sold to W E White and Sons and was renamed Knocker White. She was bought by the Museum of London circa 1985.

Varlet (due to be moved on 14th as above) is a Jubilee Class Tug built in 1937 by James Pollock and Co. Ltd, Faversham for the London Lighterage Company Vokins and Co. She worked in the West India and Royal Docks and on the River Lea. She remained in service until the early 1980s. Varlet was secured for preservation by the Museum of London on 5th August 1986.


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About The Museum of London Docklands

The Museum of London Docklands is located at West India Quay in east London. Opened in 2003, this grade one listed converted Georgian sugar warehouse specifically tells the story of the port, river and city – focusing on trade, migration and commerce in London.

The museums are open daily 10am – 6pm and are FREE to all, and you can explore the Museum of London with collections online – home to 90,000 objects with more being added.

About Trinity Buoy Wharf

Trinity Buoy Wharf is a vibrant creative centre as well as a historic site attracting tens of thousands of visitors a year.