Changing Times and Change of Direction

Since our last post the Trust has worked exstensively with Lea Valley Parks Authority to explore the proposal for displaying the SS Robin ashore on land at their historic East India Dock Basin site. The Trust employed structural engineers and architects in generating these plans and was successful in obtaining full planning permission and support from the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Sadly the Lea Valley Parks Authority have since decided not to grant permission for a lease after consdiderable expense, time and outlay spent by Trust and this proposal has therefore been reluctantly closed down.

However all is not lost!

Changing circumstances over the last year at the nearby Royal Docks mean that SS Robin could now have a new future there instead, as part of emerging wide ranging proposals for the redevelopment and regeneration of the Docks on and around its water, dockside edges and vacant land nearby. Exciting proposals aim to create a new cultural destination for London which complimenets nearby Greenwich in terms of scale and offer. The docks themselves being close to 3 km long. Maritime and commuity heritage are seen to be an important part of this and it is hoped that a range of permanent heritage vessel moorings will be provided as part of the overall scheme.

As of August/September 2019 the new masterplan is being completed and will go out for public consultation. You have a chance to have your views and help strengthen the case for making more of the SS Robin in the Royals!

Please see the ‘Join the Docks’ website for info and a chance to comment here:

We will keep you updated as things progress!

Moving Forwards to Moving Robin

As we go into February plans are moving forward to move the SS Robin to her proposed new home alongside the East India Dock Basin in London. The last few months have been a busy time with meetings between Trustees, Patrons and representatives of the Lee Valley Parks Authority who own the land onto which the Robin will be placed. One of these meetings even took place at the House of Commons with support from MP's. Planning condition requirements have just been submitted and logistics for moving the ship and the enormous crane needed to lift it are at detailed stage. Structural engineers are assessing the ground conditions at East India Dock and are preparing preliminary plans for the supporting of the ship via concealed concrete supports.

If everything comes together then we hope to move the SS Robin to her new home at the end of April!

One Step Closer to Bringing Robin Home!

Friday 27th October 2017 saw Councillors at the London Borough of Tower Hamlets accept their Planning Officers reccomendation to see the SS Robin return to the Isle of Dogs, probably for the first time since her launch 127 years ago. This is with the aim of seeing her displayed at a new shoreside setting on the East India Docks old lock entrance, overlooking the Thames. The Council who were unanimous in their vote, expressed great enthusiasm to see the SS Robin return as a new maritime heritage attraction, which could add to the strong historical and cultural identity of the Island. The SS Robin Trust are delighted with the outcome and can now get plans for the move underway. Thank you London Borough of Tower Hamlets! Further updates coming soon.

Changes to the Board of Trustees

With the signing of the agreement by Urban Space Management to look after the SS Robin, there have been some changes to the Board of Trustees.

Eric Reynolds, founding director of USM, takes over from Lord Mawson as Chairman.

Lord Mawson will remain involved and returns to his previous role as Patron and Trustee.

Sir David Varney, Rosemary Ewles, David Mann and Frank Creber have resigned as Trustees, and David Green and Dr Paul Brickell remain on the Board.

Kevin Whittle joins the Board of Trustees. Kevin has extensive experience in planning and regeneration, especially in the East End.

The SS Robin Trust would like to thank all the Trustees for their continuing efforts and commitment to the SS Robin, without whom a sustainable future for the SS Robin would not have been reached. 

Spanish links with the SS Robin

The SS Robin Trust has been privileged to have two visits from people connected to the Robin's time in Spain (when she was called Maria) over this summer.

Pilar Quelle, voyager aboard María, and widow of sailor Roberto Méndez visited at the end of June with her son José Ángel Méndez, his wife Mari Carmen Vicente, and their boys Roberto Carlos (Rober) and José María (Chema) Méndez.

Pilar stayed with her husband aboard the Maria (as the SS Robin was called in Spain) in the late 1960s. Her husband Roberto was a stoker, and because of his busy work, Pilar moved onto the Maria for a month to stay with him. There were two other ladies on board at that time too, both wives of other crewmembers. Due to the presence of ladies on ships being restricted at that time, they had to hide when near to military vessels.

In a separate visit, Carlos Varela Ferreiro came to see the Robin. He is the son of Manuel Varela Neira, skipper of the SS Robin in the late 1960s. His uncle was also the skipper.


These have been fantastic experiences for the staff and volunteers at the Robin Trust, to meet people from Spain who remember the ship and share memories. We hope that more links can be forged to uncover more of the Robin/Maria's Spanish history

Tenders for 2016

The SS Robin Trust is looking to tender two parts of work.

Please submit tenders by 31st March 2016 by email to

If you have any queries please contact Donald Findley at  

A Technical Info document provides additional information: download it via this link.

It may be that one organisation would like to tender for both contracts. The SS Robin Trust is happy to consider this.

Tender 1. A "360 Degree Review" looking at possible options for the vessel.

The key objective is to identify business models for the SS Robin which are robust, medium to long term together with evidence of interest from potential operators. We think that the best way to achieve a viable future is to find a partner who will lease the hold, and possibly the pontoon.  This lease will then help pay for the long term upkeep of the ship and hopefully some heritage activities. We will also consider options which include the sale of the SS Robin. The focus is on financially secure partners with a robust business model for the SS Robin. 

A full brief is here.

Tender 2.A Technical Brief looking to work up some "Turnkey" technical solutions.

The objectives are firstly to enable the SS Robin Trust to know what options are technically and financially viable, and secondly to provide a potential operator/purchaser with sufficient initial information to feed into more detailed and specific work. In order to progress from general interest to serious commercial discussions, the SS Robin Trust requires 4 ‘turnkey’ technical options that can be presented to potential partners and costed to a rough order of magnitude.

A full brief is here.

Hard Hat Tours on May the 16th and 17th


The SS Robin is please to announce the return of the popular behind the scenes ‘Hard Hat’ Tours.

 On May the 16th and 17th The Dunkirk Little Ships will be visiting the Royal Victoria Dock. To celebrate we will be opening up the ship for some guided tours.

 This may be one of the last chances to see the ship before her final phase of restoration and preparation for public opening.

Tickets are available from Eventbrite here.

For more information please contact

Changes to the board of the SS Robin Trust

The SS Robin Trust would like to announce a change in the board of Trustees. The project is now nearing the final phase, so the current board is transitioning to a new board, chosen with an emphasis on large scale regeneration and community projects in East London.

The new Chairman is Lord Andrew Mawson OBE, who has been involved for some time as a patron of the SS Robin Trust. Andrew is a serial social entrepreneur with a strong track record for the impact of his projects in East London, through Andrew Mawson Partnerships, and is involved in the Water City and post Olympic legacy regeneration.

He will be supported by four new Trustees:

Sir David Varney
Dr Paul Brickell
David Mann
Frank Creber

Rosemary Ewles will remain from the previous Board.

To find out more about the Trustees and Team, click here.

The previous board members will remain connected to the project in advisory and volunteer roles, in order that the Trust does not lose their expertise.The SS Robin Trust would like to thank the previous board members for their continuing efforts and commitment to the SS Robin, without whom the achievements to date would not have been reached. 

Sir Robin Knowles CBE, Chairman
Toby Brown, Vice Chairman

Peter Ellis
Peter Foggie
Graham Gollar
David Hatchard
Mark Whitehouse

To find out more information on the project click here.

London Boat Show 2015 and crowdfunding campaign

It's a busy time this New Year here at the SS Robin Trust.

The London Boat Show is happening at ExCel from the 9th to the 18th of January just opposite the Robin's mooring, so we're running some special tours, feel free to pop into our office if you'd like to be on one (we've got them scheduled for 11, 1 and 3 every day from the 9th to the 18th).

We've also launched a crowdfunding campaign to help us continue with our community volunteering. Click here to see more and support us in 2015:


SS Robin 'Through the Porthole' for the Big Draw 2014

The SS Robin is holding a free family event for the Big Draw 2014

Tue 28 Oct




Draw your own view 'through the porthole'.Custom design your own porthole along the theme of "It's Our World" and create it using pastels. 
The portholes (weather permitting) will be stuck along the side of the SS Robin, the world's oldest steamcoaster.
Pictures of this will then be entered into the drawing inspiration award competition, after which you may take your porthole home.
Help to create a work of art on this historic vessel looking out on your world.

There will be three sessions of an hour each for children ages 6 and upwards and their families. 
One ticket must be booked for each child attending.
All children must be accompanied by an adult.
Places are limited, so tickets must be booked via eventbrite. Enter SS Robin Big Draw at the eventbrite site to reserve your place. 

Planning application update

The Trust has now applied for planning permission with respect to our proposed mooring site.  We have been advised that the planning process may tease out alternative options for siting the ship and have agreed with our funders to consider a variety of possibilities both within the Royal Victoria Dock and also elsewhere.

Public consultation - new mooring and new designs.

On Tuesday 26 August 2014 the SS Robin 'Site Office' will be open to host a public consultation regarding our proposed new mooring and new designs for the project.


You are welcome to come and meet our Trustees, the project architects and other members of the project team between 4pm and 7pm.  For further information please contact Dave or Clare on 0207 998 1343. 


Best wishes,



Join us on our Journey - Administration and Activity Co-ordinator


Job Title: Administration and Activity Co-ordinator

Fixed Term: 18 months from 01 September 2014 – 28 February 2016

Contract Term: Part Time – 18 months from start date.

Hours: 32 hours per week. (4 days – 8 hours per day, including one hour paid lunch).

Salary: £18,000 per annum pro rata – (£14,400 regular pay per annum.)

Location: SS Robin Trust, Royal Victoria Dock, East London E16 1UQ

Conditions: The candidate will be required to work flexible hours, including occasional evenings and some weekends.

DBS clearance will be required.

Reports to: Project Director

Closing date for applications: 2pm – 25 July 2014  (Likely interview date 30 July 2014)

Please apply by CV and a covering letter, explaining why you are interested in the role to 


The Administration and Activity Co-ordinator will provide financial, administrative and volunteer supervision support as the organisation moves from its current capital phase into full operation in 2015. Working as a member of a small team, the post-holder will play an important role in helping to establish and maintain efficient processes and procedures relating to back-office services, volunteering activity and visitor engagement, as well as getting hands-on with conservation.


 1. Provide general office administrative and customer service support, including leading reception duties at the site office and ship and acting as first point of contact with volunteers and customers. This includes handling enquiries via phone and email and personal contact to both individuals and groups or supervising small groups of volunteers in an array of tasks

2. Assist with the maintenance of financial records and processes including some payroll duties, expenses processing, ordering equipment and services. Manage delegated budgets with due diligence and efficiency, highlighting concerns to the Project Director and where appropriate recommending actions.

 3. Ensure smooth and efficient running of the office and venue IT systems and assist with maintenance of digital media.

 4. Assist with the provision of accurate and timely management accounting information.

5. Assist in developing, and take lead responsibility for maintaining, appropriate central record systems for event schedules and other bookings.

6. Assist to deliver events and activities, including guided tours and conservation work parties, working with a diverse array of people including school groups, youth groups and specialist charity groups.

 7. Demonstrate leadership and support to SS Robin volunteers and staff, acting with due awareness as a member of the SS Robin Management Team.

 8. Act as an ‘SS Robin Duty Manager’ and key holder.  Be part of the SS Robin ‘Emergency Call-Out Team’.

 9. Assist with basic cleaning and maintenance of the site office, working with other members of staff and volunteers.

 10.   Undertake other reasonable tasks within the general nature of the above duties.


Essential skills and experience:

 Working experience of budgets and maintaining financial records

Excellent organisational and time management skills.

 Strong communication skills with good written English and attention to detail.

 Knowledge and experience of Microsoft Office

 Keen interest in office administration and finance

Experience with both internal and external customer service

Adaptable and flexible approach to teamwork with a willingness to get involved across all areas of the operation

An interest in maritime heritage, its conservation and engaging audiences

Some supervisory or management experience, with staff or volunteers


Desirable skills and experience:

 Awareness of timesheet and payroll processing or similar administration duties

 Ability to work on own initiative and as part of a project team

Experience of working with and leading volunteers, including diverse groups and individuals including youths and older people

Experience of monitoring grant aid and/or charity finance

Knowledge of Sage Accountancy systems or similar (Training will be provided if required).

Hands-on experience of conservation and/or maintenance or a willingness to learn

Physically fit with the ability to work at height, use ladders and lift equipment

Interest in developing a long term career within the heritage/arts sector


'Hard Hat' tours of the SS Robin.

An exciting opportunity to be one of the first people to visit the SS Robin. These special 'hard hat' tours will take you behind the scenes on board the ship.  This is a unique chance to discover the vessel in her raw state, to learn about the conservation currently being undertaken and our plans for the future.

You will travel round the ship, accompanied by one of our guides, who will introduce you to the various areas of the vessel and explain how we are working towards 'relaunching' her next year in time for her 125th anniversary.

As the site is undergoing construction and development for public opening, access is limited. There are steep companionway steps and narrow gaps to negotiate, please bear this in mind when booking your tour. You will need to wear flat, robust footwear and will be issued with a hard hat for your visit.

Places are very limited, so please book early to avoid disappointment and become one of the lucky few. We are suggesting a donation of £5.00 for these tours.

Sorry, but all tours are now fully booked. 


To book your place please contact 


Become a Member of our Crew - Volunteer as a member of the Conservtion, Maintenance and Housekeeping Team

About the opportunity

Working with the new management team, as part of the volunteer conservation, maintenance and housekeeping team you will help to ensure the SS Robin is properly cared for, in accordance with the Conservation Management and Maintenance Plan. Tasks may include; Preparing surfaces (sanding/chipping/wire brushing) Painting Varnishing Oiling Inspection of ropework and chocks Cleaning and conservation of historic artefacts Helping prepare the ship for public opening and general housekeeping Other tasks may be introduced as the maintenance schedule is reviewed and due to operational requirements.

What are they looking for?

We are looking for motivated and enthusiastic individuals who are interested in caring for this unique vessel.

How will you benefit?

You will have the opportunity to meet and work alongside new people as part of a small friendly team, learning practical heritage conservation skills on board one of London's most important maritime heritage sites.

Call Clare Wincza on 0207 998 1343 or email