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WWII boat being restored in Bridgwater
4:00pm Monday 4th November 2013 in Somerset
A WARSHIP enthusiast and his family are restoring a Second World War motor torpedo boat in Bridgwater so it can go on display.
This is the fourth ship that restoration expert Paul Childs, his wife Rhian and sons Owen and Simon have restored.
Mr Childs and his organisation, Militaryboats.org, raised £8,000 to buy the ship and they are now working to restore the hull in Wylds Road before it joins the other restored ships in Watchet.
Paul is hoping to open a floating museum in Watchet featuring five of the country’s most prized maritime possessions.
The Motor Torpedo Boat 219 was launched in July 1941. During its deployment it sank two German destroyers and rescued a number of downed Fairy Swordfish aircrew.
It is the only surviving vessel of its class and has been used as a houseboat in Chelsea for the past 50 years.
Mr Childs, from Bridgwater said: “You only get one chance to do something like this in your lifetime so we had to go for it.
“These boats are few and far between and if we don’t renovate them, they’re just consigned to history books.
“Seeing them gives us a better indication into what happened during the wars they were in and how important they were for the lives of our grandfathers and great-grandfathers.”
Already moored in Watchet is the Cold War ship HMS Gay Archer which Mr Childs restored after selling the family home.
Already in Watchet are Hyperion, which carried King George VI in 1944 and anti-submarine boat Moonlight 27, the lead ship which took United States troops to Utah and Omaha beaches in Normandy during the D-Day landings in 1944.
Mr Childs added: “We also have the sister boat to Hyperion, Humorist which we are restoring.
“To set up a museum like the one we have planned is so unique and would be a real crowd puller.
“It will be so beneficial to everyone and hopefully attract more tourists to the South West and Watchet.”
Mr Childs has applied for a Lottery grant to secure funding to open the museum after a successful summer last year when he opened the Gay Archer to the public.
“There was a lot of interest and we had a lot of support from the people of Watchet. This is something one man can’t do on his own, we need all the help and support we can get,” he said.
Members of the local community in Bridgwater are helping with the restoration but Paul said he is always looking for more volunteers. Contact him on 01278-429233.
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