RFA/PAS/SS Freshspring

16th January 2013, 11:44
A society is being formed to preserve the former water tanker carrier, Freshspring. She is the last of her class in original form, spending much of her working life around Malta supplying fresh water to warships at dockyards and naval anchorages.
She now lies on the banks of the river Severn near Newnham, but is in need of work to prevent her deteriorating any further and restoration.

We have arranged a general public meeting on Saturday 2nd of February to discuss the progress made with saving SS Freshspring and structuring the way forwards. We would be very pleased if you could attend the meeting.
The venue is the Ship Inn, Newnham on Severn at 2.00pm. Lunch is available at the pub prior to the meeting. The address is;
The Ship Inn
Newnham on Severn
GL14 1BY

There is a website http://www.ssfreshspring.co.uk/ where you can learn more about the ship and there's a page on Facebook too.

10th July 2016, 15:54
On the morning of Wednesday 6th July, Freshspring was towed along the river Severn in Gloucestershire from Newnham-on-Severn to Sharpness, the first time she has moved any distance for over 20 years, marking the start of works enabling Freshspring to be saved and be moved to a public location in the North Devon town of Bideford
The ship will soon enter the drydock at Sharpness, where the condition of hull will be assessed, before some hull replating, the ship surveyed by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and then she will be towed to Bideford.
She might look a bit shabby at the moment, but she will emerge from the drydock looking a lot better!

This tow is a significant mark in the restoration to full operational of Freshspring, a next major step is to compile and submit a Lottery bid to return her to full operational condition. The tow was undertaken by the Appldore based marine contractors, Keynvor Morlift Ltd, with their tug, New Ross One and Larkham Ships vessel, Riparian.

There are a number of pictures from the tow on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SSFreshspringSociety/ and website http://www.ssfreshspring.co.uk/ (http://www.ssfreshspring.co.uk/blog/entry/tow-to-sharpness-the-start-of-hull-works)

I've uploaded a few pictures from the tow 'Ex PAS Freshspring under tow' (https://www.shipsnostalgia.com/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/916858/title/ex-pas-freshspring-and/cat/535) 'Ex PAS Freshspring at tidal basin' (https://www.shipsnostalgia.com/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/916866/title/ex-pas-freshspring/cat/535) 'Ex PAS Freshspring at Sharpness harbour' (https://www.shipsnostalgia.com/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/916874/title/ex-pas-freshspring/cat/535)

26th October 2017, 12:59
This article (plus some great external and internal photos) was in Tues 24 Oct 2017 Western Morning News (Plymouth based newspaper). Double page spread article by Roger Malone about S.S. Freshspring. The ship is now at Bideford, N. Devon.


Purchased for ƒ1 and saved from demolition, the water carrier SS Freshspring is undergoing a lengthy restoration project in North Devon. It was launched in 1946 as a steamship but was converted to oil firing in 1956. One of 14 ordered by the Admiralty, and the final one built, it is the sole survivor of the Fresh Class . designed to replenish warships with fresh water. After an interesting career Freshspring was eventually laid up in Gairloch and put up for sale in 1977. Sold to a private owner, it was towed initially to Bristol, then to Newnham on Severn where it remained gradually rusting away for 20 ye a r s. However a change of fortune came Roger Malone finds out about an exciting project to bring a preserved water carrier back to pristine condition WMN-E01-S2 Bright future for SS Freshspring Main Picture: SS Freshspring being towed past Appledore towards Bideford. Left to right: The vessel as seen when bought for ƒ1; SS Freshspring at sea in her working life; the engine room; the first stage of restoration in dry dock before moving to Bideford Images courtesy of John Puddy with a visit by John Puddy who set about raising interest in saving the s h i p. As a result The Freshspring Society was formed .and John purchased the ship for ƒ1 in 2013. The charity received much good will and corporation from individuals and organisations keen to see the vessel saved .including an award of ƒ155,000 by the National Heritage Memorial Fund. Initial work was carried out in a dry dock, and the vessel was towed to her new home in Bideford in 2016. John says the primary aim of the Steamship Freshspring Society is to preserve, reconstruct and operate the historic SS Freshspring, for the education and benefit of the public. The long-standing maritime history of Bideford makes the town an ideal place to base the vessel, says Jo h n . 6The long-term vision for Freshspring is to use her to provide a public academic and practical educational resource,7he says. To ensure financial sustainability, the society aims to operate coastal cruising trips, visiting a range of locations and letting the general public and school groups aboard for educational visits. A somewhat antiquated type, the 121ft-long Fresh Class vessels were based on deep sea trawlers, with holds converted to carry water. They could carry 236 tons of fresh water for delivery to warships at dockyards and naval anchorages. After trials in February 1947, SS Freshspring sailed to her long term base in Malta. Initially coal fired she was converted to run on heavy fuel oil in 1956 whilst in Malta with three burners, one in each of the coal furnaces. In Malta she carried out duties supplying boiler and potable water to warships and civilian vessels . and also acted as a fire and salvage ve s s e l . SS Freshspring returned to the UK in 1967 to replace a sister ship, Freshpond, at Devonport. Prior to being put into reserve at Gairloch, she also worked in and around the Clyde and Pembroke Docks, and was surveyed and refitted at Ardrossan in 1969. If you have any pictures, stories or other information about Freshspring or other vessels of the Fresh Class the society would be delighted to hear from you. Volunteers are always welcome and contribute to ongoing restoration work. There is a great variety of tasks, no matter what your ability, both ashore and onboard. For more information visit: w w w. s s f r e s h s p r i n g . c o . u k

8th December 2017, 02:12
This article was in the Blackpool Gazette - reporter - Emma Harris

All aboard as blast from past sails in

A piece of Lytham history is being brought to life, thanks to hard work from volunteers. Here, JOHN PUDDY, chairman of the SS Freshspring Society tells the story of a much-loved ship built in Fylde. This piece of Lytham history has been given a new lease of life and could be open to the public next year. The steamhip Freshspring, part of a restoration project was built by the Lytham Shipbuilding and Engineering Company. The nine acre site at Lytham was set up as a shipbuilding works in 1888 and Lytham Ship building and Engineering Company was incorporated early in 1904. The yard, at its peak, employed 400 men and built more than 750 vessels – ranging from tugs to launches and river steamers. In 1939, the work of the yard was almost entirely dedicated to the war effort. In 1939, a water carrier of some 300 gross tons was ordered for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service and was named Freshwater. The ship was delivered in September 1940 and was to be followed by a further 13 similar vessels, the final one being SS Freshspring launched in August 1946 and delivered February 1947. The last seagoing vessel built by the yard was SS Hazelfield which was launched exactly one year after Freshspring. The yard f inally closing in 1955. SS Freshspring was built as a RN auxiliary coasting water tanker. The hull and superstructure are entirely of riveted construction incorporating a traditional Timber bridge amidships, a straight stem, and counter stern. The ship has a largevolume hull to accommodate the water tanks. Her whaleback houses stores, heads and showers and her full bows contribute to achieving maximum capacity within the overall dimensions of the ship, while the counter stern brings an element of elegance to her workaday hull-form. After commissioning Freshspring, sea trials took place February 1947. It was during these sea trials in the Ribble Estuary, Preston, that she grounded on the Sandy Bank – due to the fact that a pin in the reversing handle had become loose probably Three ships under construction at Lytham Shipbuilding and Engineering Company SS Freshspring in dry dock through vibration and dropped out. This was not discovered until the telegraph had been put to full astern and it was found the vessel did not respond. The engines were immediately stopped, but the weight on the vessel carried her on to the bank, and with the tide ebbing it was not possible for her to get off. She was floated off on the next tide. The following day, while entering Fleetwood wet dock, she had to avoid other vessels using the dock, resulting in her fouling the dockside, damaging the hull plating and ’ ‘ The new owner battled as best he could to save the ship pulling rivets in the process. This was all subsequently repaired in the following five days before she was handed over. Freshspring on acceptance was directed to her first naval station at Malta – a passage which took some 12 days, with coal consumption of 49 tons and a best speed of 9.5 knots. She was converted from hand coal-fired to oil-fired in 1956 and put in reserve there in 1965. She returned to UK Devonport August 1967. Thereafter she worked at various locations around the UK. She was surveyed and refitted at Ardrossan in 1969 and towed to Gareloch where she remained, ‘mothballed’, until being offered for sale in 1977. Freshspring was purchased by a Bristol businessman directly from SS Freshspring – stern view today the MOD in 1979 for further use. Subsequently, she was given to a volunteer in the owners will. The new owner battled on as best he could to save the ship, hampered by the ravages of the River Severn where she lay. By September 2012, realising he could no longer cope with the situation, he planned to scrap the ship. A meeting was held at a nearby pub in Newnham to make an appeal for volunteers and seek to create a future for Freshspring. With a nucleus of volunteers established, the charity we know today was formed in May 2013, shortly after which time, the charity took ownership of SS Freshspring for 1. The intervening years have been spent keeping the water out of the ship and working to raise funds to save her. At the 11th hour, as the trust was seriously considering sensitively breaking her up, it gained funds from The National Heritage Memorial Fund to save the ship and take her to Bideford, the only port which offered a berth. Keynvor Morlift, a marine towing company agreed to tow the ship at no cost. This provided some 15,000 of, in kind, match funding. funds from National Heritage Memorial Fund to save SS Freshspring, the biggest challenge the trust has ever had was to arrange and manage the dry docking and moving of the ship. In July 2016, the ship was towed across from Newnham by Keynvor Morlift. She was dry-docked and necessary repairs carried out to enable her to be towed to Bideford, her new home port where she arrived in October 2016. The trust has now achieved further Heritage Lottery funding to embark on a 120,000 project to open the ship to the public in 2018, provide and to start restoration by rebuilding the timber bridge and boatdeck.

n Visit www.ssfreshspring. co.uk

n Thanks to Lucy Knight and John Puddy for their help and information.

End of article

21st January 2018, 16:57
Re Steamship Freshspring official opening
Bideford quay, N Devon.

I had this email back from John Puddy chairman of Steamship Freshspring Society based Bideford, N Devon, where S.S. Freshspring built Lytham shioyard. Vessel was an ex Admiralty water carrier (exPAS, ex RMAS) previously based Malta later Devonport dockyard Plymouth and other ports is now moored. The email was sent 2018.

Dear Lucy,

The ship will be open from 30th June this year.

2nd April 2018, 12:17
Recent article on S.S. Freshspring by George Henderson Forrester newspaper which covers area Newnham on Severn

Article also included about 5 photos.

There is also going to be an article un Bristol Post daily newspsper on S.S. Freshspring by Eugene Byrne. S.S. Freshspring was in Bristol Docks before berth at Newnham on Severn before being moored Bideford Quay N Devon.

IT HAS been a long and exhausting voyage - but grand old lady of the seas SS Freshspring is now approaching safe harbour.When she was towed away from her mooring at Newnham in 2016 she was just a rusting hulk, left mouldering on the banks of the Severn for 20 years.But today, the SS Freshspring is nearing the end of a full restoration, to be opened as a tourist attraction at Bideford in Devon on June 30 as part of the town’s Heritage Day.The volunteers of the SS Freshspring Society has carried out a two-year programme to reopen the ship as a heritage attraction.The ship will then be a nationally recognised attraction and asset, engaging up to 120,000 people a year through a combination of work, education and tourism.The project was made possible by a National Lottery grant which was substantially matched in Devon by Torridge District Council, Bideford Bridge Trust and The Balsdon Trust.Match funds were also awarded by The Headley Trust along with individual Trust Membership support.Trust chairman John Puddy said: “This is a huge step forward for the trust. Presenting her afloat in Bideford as a static heritage exhibit means she will be the only vessel of her type and age accessible to the general public.“SS Freshspring’s hull and superstructure were substantially intact, while her steam engines are in outstanding condition due to the care given to them over time.“With her pre-Second World War configuration, her form reflects the type of general cargo vessel that was the workhorse of the British and the world’s mercantile fleets from the 1920s to the 1950s.“Bringing Freshspring back to operational condition for a sustainable future involved retaining her external form.“Her internal water tank spaces have been sympathetically converted making her the only operational vessel of this type.“I thank all those in our team who worked so hard to make this such a successful project with a very bright future.Final work on the restoration of the ship’s bridge, boat deck and access is approaching completion to ensure the ship can fully open in June this year.”By George [email protected] STATE: The deteriorating SS Freshspring in Newnham in 2015.SEAGOING DAYS: A seaworthy SS Freshspring at Bristol Docks.LABOUR OF LOVE: John Richards pictured working on the vessel in Newnham 2007.Fleet Auxiliary vessel boasts proud history THE SS Freshspring was built at the Lytham St Anne’s shipyard in 1946 as the last of 14 Fresh-class ships for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.She worked as a water tank supply vessel supplying Royal Navy ships with fresh water.Following initial trials, she sailed to Malta replacing one of her sister ships which had been sunk during the Second World War. Originally coal fired by hand, she was converted to burn heavy fuel oil while in Malta.After around 15 years service in Malta she was repatriated to the UK, working around the Firth of Clyde and west coast of Scotland for the Port Auxiliary Service.In 1969 she was surveyed and refitted at Ardrossan, then towed to the Gareloch where she remained possibly laid-up out of service at the Faslane naval base. In 1977 she was put up for sale and was sold two years later to Oswald Burgess, the owner of a Bristol company that was evaluating alternative ship fuels, which is where it is thought the SS Freshspring was last in steam.Following vandalism and theft in Bristol, which saw the loss of equipment from the wheelhouse such as the telegraph, she was moved to Newnham-on-Severn.The ship's owner died in the early part of the new millennium and left the ship to John Richards, a volunteer restoring the SS Freshspring in Newnham.In 2015 the owners of the Bollow Pill berth at Newnham gave notice that they wanted it moved from its moorings after resting on the banks of the River Severn for more than two decades.And in 2016 The SS Freshwater was towed to Devon so her major restoration could begin.

I asked John Puddy Chairman of Steamship Freshspring Society what elae re Maritime that Bideford had to offer, if people had a long drive to visit.

This was John's email reply.

Dear Lucy,

It is worth coming to Bideford as there are several vessels of interest.

They include, Ionia, an aircraft recovery barge (Now a cafe), an Irish navy Tender, Submarine escort vessel and several others.

I bought MS Oldenburg for Lundy in 1985. She was a German Railway ferry which ran from Wilhelmsham to the Friesian Islands. She was built in 1958.

The Appledore museum is well worth a visit.

I am also a Trustee of a charity which is trying to acquire and open Richmond Dry dock in Appledore. It is grade 2*


Show quoted text
John Puddy.
Steamship Freshspring Society.
Head office: Little Cleave, Lower Cleave, Northam, Devon. EX39 2RH
Tel: 01237479730
Mobile: 07941464542
email: [email protected]
Website: www.ssfreshspring.co.uk
Reg Charity: 1151907

16th April 2018, 18:31
There is an article about S.S. Freshspring in tomorrow's Bristol Post daily newspaper (middle of paper). Bristol reporter is Eugene Byrne whose father worked for many years at GKA, Portishead radio.

19th April 2018, 17:12
Here is text of article about S.S. Freshspring in Bristol Post newspaper 17 02 2018. There were also four photos.

Text of article by reporter Eugene Byrne.

Long-time resident of Bristol Docks and seemed fated to be broken up. Now she has a new home and faces a promising future as a visitor attraction. Eugene Byrne re p or t s. ALONG standing resident of Bristol3s city docks was down on her luck for a while. But now she's in Devon where she is scrubbing up nicely. If all goes to plan she will be ready to receive guests later this summer. If you lived in Bristol between the late 1970s and early 1990s, you'll remember the SS Freshspring. She was as much a fixture of the docks as the cranes or the harbour railway. The former Royal Fleet Auxiliary water tanker has had her share of ups and downs, but her future right now is looking very bright. The only problem is that if you want to go and visit her, you3ll have to go to Bideford in Devon. (The Steamship Freshspring Society, who are looking after her, would rightly point out that Bideford is a splendid holiday or day-trip destination and that there is much to see and do in the surrounding area.) Freshspring was built by the Lytham Shipbuilding and Engineering Company. She was the last .and now the only survivor .of a class of purpose-built water tenders. The design was based on deep-sea fishing trawlers and most were built during WW2. She was launched in 1946 and her job, like those of her Fresh- class sisters, was to deliver fresh water for the boilers of Royal Navy warships, and for naval crews to drink. Following acceptance and an embarrassing grounding near Preston during sea-trials, the RFA (as in Royal Fleet Auxiliary) Freshspring took station at Malta. The Navy still had a sizeable presence in the Mediterranean back then and she led a useful working life both as a water tender (for civilian as well as Naval vessels) and occasionally fire-fighting and salvage ship. She was converted from coal to oil in 1956 and worked another nine years before being put in reserve. She returned to Devonport in 1967 but went on to spend many more years working in Scotland. After finally being mothballed, she was put up for sale in the late 1970s and was bought for an undisclosed sum from the Ministry of Defence by Graham Fox and Oswald Burgess. The late Mr Burgess had been a marine engineer and his plan was to take the 105ft vessel to Bristol to experiment with new forms of fuelling ships using waste materials. Getting her here was a challenge. They brought her to Greenock and fuelled her, but were unable to find a crew to take her to Bristol. In the end they managed to get a tow from a tug which was heading for the Middle East. Fresh start for old Fresh start for old resident of docks resident of docks Above left, SS Freshspring Society secretary Stephen Attenbrough, chairman John Puddy and mayor David Howell welcome the ship to Bideford, October 2016 (Pic: Graham Hobbs of Bideford); above right, moored outside the Industrial Museum (now M Shed), 1980s (Steamship Freshspring Society). Below left, in Bristol, late 1970s or early 1980s. (Steamship Freshspring Society); below right, under tow and approaching Sharpness, July 2016. (Steamship Freshspring Society) So it was that Freshspring arrived at Bathurst Basin in December 1979. At that stage, the ship was in excellent condition. She3d been re-fitted and well looked after and her inventory included all the crockery and ship's spares, including even a spare propeller. Her arrival in Bristol attracted a lot of attention and it wasn3t long before a group of volunteers had been formed to help out. The Council and the Museums service agreed that she could be berthed outside the Industrial Museum (now M Shed) provided she was open to the public at weekends and bank holidays. While here she was also used for BBC TV drama Wilfred and Eileen, about a man and his wife coming to terms with his experiences in the First World War. Volunteer crew members appeared as extras. Filming had its share of incidents. On one occasion, the director wanted it to look as though the ship was rocking, so the volunteers tied a line Being brought to Bideford after a temporary stay at Appledore, October 2016 Pic: Graham Hobbs of Bideford to the top of the mast and started a motion. One of the tanks was half filled with water, which now started slopping about, making the roll worse. Members of the film crew had to come up from below in order to be sick over the side! Eventually co-owner Graham Fox pulled out and Mr Burgess closed the ship to the public. Freshspring was moved back to Bathurst Basin where she lay for some time, falling victim to vandalism and theft. In 1991, she was moved to Newnham on Severn. Here, too, she was looked after by volunteers, though without the resources to do much more than basic maintenance. When he died at his Downend home in 1998, Oswald Burgess left the ship to one of the volunteers. The new owner did his best to save her, but was fighting the ravages of both time and nature. The unforgiving River Severn was no help. By September 2012, realising that he could no longer cope with the situation, the volunteer planned to scrap the ship. At this point, some enthusiasts stepped in and formed a group to try and save her. A charity . the Steamship Freshspring Society . was formed in 2013, and they bought the ship for 1. This was far from the end of her troubles, though. Money worries meant that it looked as though Freshspring would have to be broken up, but at the very last minute, an award of 155,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund arrived to save her. She was taken to Bideford, the only port which offered a berth, and marine contractors and consultants Keynvor Morlift agreed to tow the ship at no cost, a huge favour which saved the charity about 15,000. She arrived at her new home port in October 2016 and the Society gained further Heritage Lottery funding late last year. Society Chairman John Puddy said: 6This is a huge step forward for the Trust. The National Lottery grant was substantially matched in Devon by Torridge District Council, Bideford Bridge Trust and The Balsdon Trust, demonstrating very considerable local support. In addition, match funds have been awarded by The Headley Trust along with individual Trust Membership support. I thank all those in our team who worked so hard to make this such a successful project with a very bright future. Work is now well advanced on restoring the ship's bridge and boat deck. Some of the money will also be used to provide education services. One day it3s hoped that Freshspring will be in steam once more, taking passengers out for day-trips, but that it in the longer term. In the meantime, it3s anticipated that she3ll be ready to welcome visitors aboard this summer. For details, and to keep up with the project progress, see www.ssfreshspr ing.co.uk. (There are plenty of other websites which will provide Freshspring3s Bristolian friends with information on other things to do while visiting the Bideford area

21st April 2018, 16:44
This story along with photos and YouTube was in 27 02 18 North Dvon Gazette. Label below

SS Freshspring’s new wheelhouse is craned in

PUBLISHED: 09:51 17 April 2018

The new wheelhouse being craned into place on SS Freshspring in Bideford on Monday. Picture: Graham Hobbs

The new wheelhouse being craned into place on SS Freshspring in Bideford on Monday. Picture: Graham Hobbs
A new wheelhouse was craned into place on SS Freshspring in Bideford yesterday afternoon (Monday).
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The wheelhouse, made by Cornish-based Butler and Co, has transformed the look of the steamship, which is being restored.

John Puddy, chairman of the Freshspring Society, said: “This is a great day for us because we have taken delivery of our new wheelhouse which has been fully restored by a yard in Cornwall.

“It has been a long time coming.

“One of the great things about this is the local support we have received, both from the district council, from the Bridge Trust, and importantly from the Heritage Lottery.”
The new wheelhouse being craned into place on SS Freshspring in Bideford on Monday. Picture:YellowBunny.Media The new wheelhouse being craned into place on SS Freshspring in Bideford on Monday. Picture:YellowBunny.Media

The SS Freshspring arrived in Bideford in September last year, and volunteers have been working hard to restore it.

The Society’s vision is to restore the steamship - which is thought to take between three and five years - and use her as an educational tool for young people.
The new wheelhouse being craned into place on SS Freshspring in Bideford on Monday. Picture: Graham Hobbs The new wheelhouse being craned into place on SS Freshspring in Bideford on Monday. Picture: Graham Hobbs

Initially the SS Freshspring will be a static exhibit, but the trust’s plan is to restore her and use her for short cruise trips.

The 120ft ex-Royal Navy Auxiliary water tanker is recognised as being of national historical significance on the National Register of Historic Vessels.
The new wheelhouse being craned into place on SS Freshspring in Bideford on Monday. Picture:YellowBunny.Media The new wheelhouse being craned into place on SS Freshspring in Bideford on Monday. Picture:YellowBunny.Media

She was first launched on August 15, 1946, and after trials in February 1947, she sailed to her long term base in Malta.

She returned to the UK in 1967, and was put into reserve in 1976. In 1979 she was sold to a private owner in Bristol where she was last steamed.
The new wheelhouse being craned into place on SS Freshspring in Bideford on Monday. Picture: Graham Hobbs The new wheelhouse being craned into place on SS Freshspring in Bideford on Monday. Picture: Graham Hobbs

She was based at Newnham on Severn before being towed to her new home in Bideford.

The 40,000 project to restore the ship’s bridge has been supported by funding from TDC, the Bridge Trust and Bideford and Northam Town Councils.
The new wheelhouse being craned into place on SS Freshspring in Bideford on Monday. Picture:YellowBunny.Media The new wheelhouse being craned into place on SS Freshspring in Bideford on Monday.


25th November 2019, 12:16
Some interesting videos here of the Freshspring, by the trust.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCx7X8TUBKF37o7jgTNirdHw including the whelhouse mechanism, engine and boiler-room.

Others on Youtube showing the voyages down the Severn to Bideford.

Unfortunately, all the wheelhouse brass & bronze has "gone" but down below is remarkably untouched.

My brother who lives nearby, has just joined the restoration group.

It looks like a great project.

If only I lived 200 miles nearer.