Fund-raising starts for £5 million


The great and the good are trying to raise £5 million to build a second HMS Beagle the three-masted barque which carried Charles Darwin to Galapagos and aboard which the first notes of his world-changing tome, The Origin of Species, were written.

At the House of Lords fund-raising presentation the other week I was asked not to refer to the new craft as a ‘replica’ – even though the handouts supplied to those of us gathered used the phrase.

This is partly because, we were told, the Heritage Lottery Fund will not shell out cash for a ‘replica’.

What about a ‘restoration’ ? The Heritage Lottery Fund have no problem with that.

But is there anything left of the original Beagle? Yes, apparently her remains lie beneath the ooze of the River Roach at Paglesham in Essex. Perhaps the fund-rasiers might want to consider digging up her bottom timbers – which should be sound as they are airtight beneath layers of estuary mud – and start building up from that.

The HLF shelled out £950,000 for Britain’s last sailing ship, the Thames barge Cambria, whose bottom planking will be the only original timbers (apart from the cabin panelling) used in her ‘re-build’.

The picture shows Paglesham at dawn. Beagle lies on the shore on the left side of the river.