RAMSGATE’S FAMOUS LITTLE SHIP
SHIPSHAPE AND BRISTOL FASHION
SEAWORTHY AND READY FOR ACTION
BUT PREVENTED FROM TAKING HER
RIGHTFUL PLACE ON THE
2010 COMMEMORATION RETURN TO DUNKIRK
DUE TO BUREAUCRATIC
EAST KENT MARITIME TRUSTEES
THE STEAM MUSEUM TRUST
& THANET DISTRICT COUNCIL
From 1993 until April 2008 the East Kent Maritime Trust was funded by the Thanet District Council with an annual grant (by 2007/8 the sum was £80,000) This annual charge to Thanet rate payers was supplemented by donations and grants from other bodies, and in 2006, the Robert Butler bequest totalling £260,000.
Between 2005 and 2008 Project Sundowner cost the trust £60,671.94. (see enclosed list of accounts paid).This sum was for the major refit necessary to keep the vessel seaworthy and operational “To work as an ambassador for the Ramsgate Maritime Museum and spread the history and fame of the Little Ships Of Dunkirk far and wide” (see notice by Mr. Charles Payton, of Tide Chaser, Maritime Heritage consultants, engaged by EKMT, during 2004/6, for projects Sundowner and Cervia at an additional cost of £38,737 - list encl.)
Following a legal dispute with Mr. Michael List Brain, the owner of the Steam Tug Cervia, regarding the non maintenance of his vessel that was on loan to the museum, the EKMT was required to pay Mr. List Brain the sum of £100,000 (to include his legal costs), and also cede to him all of the artifacts held in the Ramsgate Maritime Museum plus the Little Ship Sundowner, (EKMT’s own costs amounted to around £30,000). Mr. List Brain received the £100K following the Mediation in November 2007. However, he has to this date declined to accept either the artifacts or the vessel.
The TDC stopped funding the EKMT in April 2008 and during the year trustees started to abandon the sinking ship, including the (then) Conservative Chairman of TDC, Cllr. John Kirby and the (now) Conservative Chairman of KCC, Cllr. Bill Hayton. The EKMT museums in Ramsgate and Margate were both closed in November 2008, with the seven members of staff all being made redundant.
The ownership of Sundowner therefore still rests with the remaining EKMT trustees, Mr. Dennis Payne (Chairman) and Mr. Norman Temple (Secretary). The vessel is still fully insured (it has to be, to receive a mooring in the Royal Harbour). However Mr. Norman Temple has now refused to allow the fully sea worthy vessel to leave harbour and is therefore preventing her from taking part in the Operation Dynamo 2010 return passage to Dunkirk. Unbelievably, Ramsgate’s Famous Little Ship looks set to miss the most important commemoration event held in recent years, the 70th anniversary of the miracle of Dunkirk, and which would achieve the purpose for which she had £100,000 of district council, county council and Interreg grant money plus private donations spent on her.
Cllr. John Watkins.
Volunteer boats officer,
Ramsgate Maritime museum.