Friday, 21 February 2014

A great piece of British industrial history brought back to life

In 1861, the Peruvian Government of Ramon Castilla, ordered two small cargo-passenger “gunboats” for Lake Titicaca. They were to be built in UK by James Watt of Birmingham and the Thames Ironworks (the origins of West Ham Football Club & its 'Hammers' nickname') .Without a rail link to the lake at that time, all cargo had to be carried up on mule back. Therefore,
the ships were built in kit form, with no piece weighing more than 3 ½ cwts, the maximum carrying capacity of a mule. On 15th October 1862, the “Mayola”, bearing the 'kit' [for two ships]docked at Arica – a Peruvian port before the War of the Pacific – and discharged the packing cases. 2,766 pieces and two crankshafts then had to be transported overland transported to Lake Titicaca,12,500 ft. (3,810ms) above sea level. With the aid of 8 British Engineers, at 3pm on Christmas Day 1870, the First Lady of the Lake was launched. The amazing journey from the heart of Empire Britain to the spiritual heart of the Inca Empire was finally complete. Fast forward to 1982 and a redoubtable lady called Meriel Larken discovered the abandoned & ruined ship, commissioned a Lloyds Condition Survey which found that being in fresh water at high altitude, the iron hull [Note NOT steel] was in excellent condition and it was deemed worthy of restoration. By 1987, The YAVARI Project (Registered Charity No.298904) and La Asociación Yavarí (non-profit making NGO) had been formed and on 17th February the YAVARI was bought from the Peruvian Navy. Now, thanks the heroic efforts of Meriel, and the generosity of hosts of sponsors and individuals, the ship is fully restored to working order and is currently being used as a Bead & Breakfast facility. It needs a further £350000 to be certified as fit to carry passengers on the lake. So come on people – especially wealthy people for whom this is NOT a big sum. Contact by Email: – and make a donation. Type Yavari Ship into a search engine for much more detail of this fascinating story.

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