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Deliverance at hand for rotting ship replica in St George

The replica of the Deliverance in St George is in need of major repairs (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

An ageing replica of an historic ship is on course to become an attraction designed to tell the story of Bermuda’s early shipbuilding industry.

Colin Campbell, the director of architecture firm OBM, said the revamp of the Deliverance was part of a plan to improve Ordnance Island in St George.

Mr Campbell said: The Deliverance is looking a bit sore, and she has every right to be.

“Wooden ships in its day lasted 30 years if they were having a good run. This has been down there for 50 years.”

The original vessel, along with a sister ship the Patience, was built from the wreck of the Sea Venture that foundered in 1609 on the reefs off St George’s, which led to Bermuda’s permanent settlement by Britain.

The Sea Venture’s crew used the two ships to continue on to their original destination, Jamestown in Virginia, where a settlement of English colonists had dwindled from hundreds to about 60 survivors.

A replica of the Deliverance, built as a tourist attraction in 1967, needed major repairs extensive repairs after is suffered severe hurricane damage in 2014.

The ship had $65,000 spent on refurbishments by 2018.

But the St George’s Foundation, former owners of the replica before it was handed back to the Corporation of St George, said the ship’s design flaws mean the Deliverance was not built to last.

Cheryl Hayward-Chew, chairwoman of the foundation, said: “Unfortunately, it’s built much like a boat, except it’s not in the water.

“It needs to breathe and it cannot, because it’s watertight, so it’s been subject to quite a bit of rot on the inside.”

She added: “The question now is whether to keep putting money into it – or whether it should be changed to something different and a little more interactive.”

Mr Campbell said he was among those invited by the Corporation to “look at what could be done”.

He said: “It’s been fixed up over a long period of time, but it was my position you could put $1 million into it and it would not be performing as an asset because right now it’s isolated from St George’s.

“We need to get people over there.

“The solution on the first go is not the Deliverance, but Ordnance Island and making it into a destination.”

Canons and the statue of Sir George Somers, who was in charge of the Deliverance, have been repositioned, while tourist attractions such as the stocks, pillory and whipping post have been moved across from Kings Square.

Mr Campbell said waterside picnic tables at the western end of the island would be a draw for families.

He added: “Now we are working on the Deliverance model.

“The Deliverance as a story is singular and interesting. We have no image for what it looked like; we have a narrative, but we don’t have a good idea.

“The model there right now is a fiction, but it’s a good facsimile of ships that might have been built at that time.”

“As a result, the replica can be remodelled to better endure the elements – while remaining faithful to history.”

Mr Campbell’s said he wanted the ship to showcase Bermuda’s “staggering” history from when shipbuilding was the island’s biggest industry.

A plan for a rebuilt ship would include the use of concrete to make it sturdier and moving the ship to make better use of the space.

It would include an audiovisual display designed to show the ship’s history.

Mr Campbell said the revamped replica could be used as a for parties.

He added it would be built “in such a fashion that it indicates a ship in the process of being built”.

He added: “A storyteller or busker could be hired to tell how ships were built in Bermuda back in the day.”

The Corporation of St George announced last October that it would launch a fundraising campaign to develop Ordnance Island and turn the ship’s replica into “a first-rate exhibit for students and visitors”.

Mr Campbell said the project would be “a labour of love”.

“The Corporation deserve full marks. They’ve had to deal with Covid-19 and not having cruise ships – they’re really imaginative to take on this new project.

“But the key is that with the St Regis now open and operating, people are going to be looking for things to do, interesting stories to explore.

“St George’s is a treasure chest of wonderful stories.

“If we can provide that for these guests, then we are off to the races.”

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Published August 12, 2021 at 7:58 am (Updated August 12, 2021 at 7:36 am)

Deliverance at hand for rotting ship replica in St George

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