BBC film incredible restoration of Mystery II vessel by apprentices at Liverpool College

APPRENTICES at The City of Liverpool College restoring a Lancashire Nobby boat have been filmed for a BBC show about the history of pleasure sailing on the Mersey.

Camera crews descended on the Vauxhall Street campus to capture the students working to restore the 19th century vessel ‘Mystery II’.

The Lancashire Nobby – or Morecambe Bay Prawner, as they were originally called – is an inshore sailing boat which was used from the 1840s to catch shrimp around the Mersey coastline, Lancashire and the Isle of Man. Nobby was a slang name given to the boats, which means ‘rough wood’.

The BBC are making a six-part documentary series called ‘Britain Afloat’, which will tell a social history of Britain through some of the boats that helped to shape it.

One of the half-hour episodes will look at the history of pleasure sailing on the Mersey, featuring boats such as the Nobby, the Seabird Half Rater and the Liverpool Bay Falcon.

The restoration of Mystery II will be carried out by Carpentry and Joinery students, who will get to work alongside skilled traditional boat builders using methods more than a century old.

The students will learn to use different types of material and traditional jointing methods.

The college’s Mechanics students will get involved with restoring and rebuilding the engine and the Fabrication and Welding students will replace all the metal work.

To finish, Painting and Decorating students will apply preserve and final finish to her to restore the vessel to its former glory.

The Mystery II was built in 1911 by James Armour of Fleetwood for Frank Hughes, who lived in New Brighton, according to information held by the Nobby Owners Association, who have chosen the college to complete the restoration.

The college was chosen because of its highly skilled students and staff who are renowned in the engineering and construction industries for delivering outstanding work and its excellent facilities at the Vauxhall Road campus.

The vessel was specifically designed to beat Mr Hughes’s competitors boat Camellia but was disqualified from the 1911 New Brighton Magazine Regatta.

The next year Mystery II came third and raced in the West Cheshire and New Brighton Regatta in 1913, finishing third, and in the same year came second in the Royal Mersey Yacht Club Regatta.

Mystery II was registered for fishing as LL59 on May 23, 1911 and continued operating with the same number until 1991.

Stewart Quayle, Head of Construction and Building at The City of Liverpool College, said: “Welcoming the BBC to the college to film the restoration of the Lancashire Nobby was a great experience for our students.

“The benefits to the students carrying out real work activities, including heritage skills of traditional boat builders and the strong links with Liverpool maritime history is invaluable.

“Traditional wooden shipbuilders have sadly all but disappeared from the Mersey over the years, as modern fibreglass boats became more popular.

“So, it is more important than ever to pass on these traditional boat building methods to the next generation before they’re lost forever.

“We also intend to let our Motor vehicle students restore the engine and Fabrication & Welding learners replace and repair the old iron work.

“The college is always looking to support local communities with projects that benefit both parties and we are looking to develop community ambassadors for the college.

“We will be looking to run a classic boat restoration course and engaging with the community and local schools to get them involved from educational historical point of view.

“The renovation of the Mystery will play a key role in raising awareness of Liverpool’s maritime history.”

Britain Afloat featuring Mystery II and The City of Liverpool College will be broadcast on BBC One at 19:30pm on Friday 29th September.