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Excitement as dock at 'the heart' of rivermouth village returns to work

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 14, 2012

The two fishing boats owned by W Stevenson & Sons of Penzance – the Anneliese and Jannie En Klass – in Appledore's Richmond Dry Dock for dismantling, above. And left: As it was before Appledore Shipyard was built

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A historic dry dock in the Westcountry has accepted its first shipping vessels for more than 40 years.

Richmond Dry Dock in Appledore, North Devon, was last used in the 1960s.

But on Thursday, after nine months of restoration, it has became operational again.

Two decommissioned fishing trawlers from Cornwall were towed in on the morning high tide, to be broken up and recycled.

First to arrive was the Anneliese and the second was the Jannie En Klaas.

Both boats were from Penzance and were formerly owned by W Stevenson & Sons, which has one of the biggest fishing fleets in the UK.

Richmond Dock, built in 1856, was the predecessor to Appledore Shipyard which was built further down the estuary when the dry dock could no longer cope with the amount of work coming in. After the shipyard was built, the dry dock was used less and less from the 1960s onwards.

But at the beginning of this year, work was started to restore the dock to its former glory after the planning inspectorate rejected plans to turn the site into a housing development.

Simon Maunder, who owns the site, employed FTD Marine to run the dock, which will now be dismantling and repairing vessels at the site full time.

Mr Maunder said he was thrilled to see the business up and running.

He said: "It was nearly a year ago when Gareth Evans from FTD Marine first approached me about bringing vessels into the dock for recycling.

"I'm so pleased that he is now up and running and look forward to watching FTD Marine prosper in the future."

He added: "The numbers of people that came to see the boats coming in this morning was great. There was a very nostalgic atmosphere which proved there is a much deeper passion for the dock than any other development."

Mr Maunder said the first two vessels will be cleaned out this week and then next week they will start to be dismantled.

He said they will be cut up in sections before being loaded on to lorries and sent to be recycled. He added that the metal could possibly be used for something like car manufacturing.

Mr Maunder added: "We have another two vessels already coming in and then a constant stream of them coming from all over the UK. Within the next few months we will have 15 people working full-time at the site."

The vessels' size and condition determines whether the owner or the dock pays for them to be dismantled.

One man from Appledore who watched the trawlers being towed into the dock, Ernie Tomlinson, said: "The dock was at the heart of Appledore in the past and it's great to see that heart starting to beat again. It will be a tourist attraction in a village whose heritage is ship building.

"The dock will also provide much-needed local employment which should be permanent as long as the owner ensures the environmental constraints are adhered to."

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