Trustees behind a campaign to bring the world’s oldest remaining steam trawler back to its home in Hull will be crossing off the days after taking delivery of a commemorative calendar and revealing the ship could be back next summer.
The Viola Trust unveiled the “Homeward Bound” calendar to sponsors at a special launch event held at 1884 Wine & Tapas Bar.
This venue was selected because of its support for the project and its location at the side of Hull Marina – the former Humber Dock from which the Viola sailed in 1914 to serve in the First World War.
Welwick-based artist Larry Malkin initiated the calendar with the aim of raising funds and increasing awareness of the project. Within three days of launching the calendar with a limited edition print run of 500, trustees reported more than 300 had been sold.
The Viola was built by Cook, Welton & Gemmell in Beverley in 1906 for Hellyer Brothers, the Hull firm of trawler owners who put her to work as part of their fleet of boxing trawlers. She was requisitioned to defend the UK in the Great War and then left Hull for the last time in 1918.
Her career took her to Norway, Africa and Argentina, catching fish, hunting whales and elephant seals and supporting expeditions in the South Atlantic.
In the 1970s, Viola was mothballed after the closure of the whaling station at Grytviken, South Georgia. Sitting on the beach, where she remains, the old trawler was the target in 1982 of scrap metal merchants from Argentina. But when they landed they ran up the Argentine flag, an action which led to the Falklands War.
Larry, who works from his studio at home, was inspired to create the calendar after being commissioned to paint a picture of the Norland for the cover of a book.
He had already decided to paint the Viola and offer the work to the Viola Trust for auction, and he was planning another work showing the visit to Hull by the Royal Yacht Britannia in 1977.
He said: “I realised that by having three separate paintings we had the start of a calendar, so I contacted the Trust and offered to put one together.”
With the printing of the calendar sponsored by local businesses, the Viola campaign will receive all the proceeds from sales, topped up by half of the revenue from an auction of the original paintings early in 2020.
The Viola features on the cover of the calendar and for the month of April. Other featured vessels are the Kirkella, Humber Barges, Norland, HMS Bounty, Lincoln Castle, HMS Britannia with HMS Yarmouth, Manxman, Sea Challenger, Arctic Corsair, Rialto and Diana.
Norman Court, Project manager for the Viola Trust, said the initial target is to raise £1.5-million to bring the Viola back to Hull and then bring in another £1.5-million to restore the ship ready to take her place in the Hull: Yorkshire’s Maritime City project.
He said discussions are underway with the operators of vessels which could carry the Viola the 7,745 miles back from South Georgia and with potential suppliers of funding, with a significant amount already pledged for when the vessel is back in the UK.
He said: “With a fair wind the Viola could be back next summer. If we hit complications we’ll be looking at 2021.”
Many businesses have already ordered copies of the calendar as corporate gifts and further enquiries are welcome.
Individuals can also buy copies of the calendar at 1884 Wine & Tapas Bar, Wellington Street West, Hull, and at Hotham’s Distillery in Hepworth’s Arcade, Hull. The Viola Trust is in the process of contacting retailers to stock the calendar. The retail price is £9.95, with postage and packaging payable on email orders.
Hotham’s Distillery is also about to launch the next edition of its Viola gin. The event will take place at 1884 Wine & Tapas Bar on Wednesday 13 November at 6.30pm for 7pm.
Guests will be able to meet Larry Malkin and will hear from maritime historian Dr Robb Robinson about the history of the Viola and the other ships featured in the calendar.
They will also hear from Emma Kinton, co-founder of Hotham’s, about the techniques and history of making gin. The price of £40 includes a tapas meal, a glass of Viola gin and a £10 donation to the fund.
Anyone interested in placing an order for the calendar or booking for the gin night should contact the Trust by email at email@example.com