Royal Naval Association Donation to FoNS


The Friends of Newport Ship have received a donation of £200 from the Newport branch of the Royal Naval Association (RNA) at the monthly RNA meeting in early September.

George Blackborow, president of the Newport RNA handed the cheque to Phil Cox, chairman of the Friends of Newport Ship.

Steve Mogg, secretary to the RNA branch said, “We are all former serving members of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines.  The Friends of Newport Ship need support for their project here in Newport and we thought it was right to raise some money for them.  Anything related to the Ship we will help towards, and if any new ship comes into Newport we try to support that as well.”

Phil Cox explained that this money will go towards evenlogo-nmsts at the Medieval Ship Centre, which will help draw more visitors to the exhibition.  At each event where these funds have helped to support the programme, we will proudly display the RNA emblem and hopefully have the RNA flag flying high.

The Ship Centre is open from 10am until 4pm every Friday and Saturday until the end of October, after which we will reduce to Saturdays only until early December.  Please see our website for more details.

Volunteer Eric Recognised Again


Amazing Eric Channing has worked tirelessly for the Newport Medieval Ship project since its inception fourteen years ago.  Clocking up thousands of hours in his green apron, scrubbing the ship’s timbers with cold fresh water and toothbrushes, Eric has probably seen all the individual artefacts passing through his hands.

Eric is a regular volunteer, and comes along most Saturdays to do all the odd jobs that we can find to keep him busy.  Whether it’s pushing a broom, sharpening drill bits or helping to hang displays, he’s there!

The Friends of Newport Ship nominated Eric for the annual GAVO Newport Volunteer Achievement Awards specifically for his enduring dedication to the project.  Regrettably we didn’t manage to get him onto the short list and a free celebration dinner – but at least he has another ‘Certificate of Appreciation’ to add to his collection.

Thank you Eric for all your continuing work at the Medieval Ship Centre.  It is hugely appreciated by all the FoNS crew.

If you are inspired by Eric’s dedication, come and have a chat with the crew whenever we are open.

The Newport Medieval Ship Centre is opened by the Friends of Newport Ship every Friday and Saturday until the end of October, and thereafter on Saturdays only until mid December.  Check our website for more details

Honorary Captains for September 2016


The Friends of Newport Ship have appointed Leonard Cole and Robert Gibbs, horologists and watch repairers of Stow Hill, Newport, as Captain and Commander of the Newport Ship for the month of September in recognition of their continuing support of the Newport Medieval Ship over the years. Both Leonard and Robert were delighted with the award and are finding space on the wall behind where they can proudly hang the certificate.  their names have been added to the ‘Roll of Honour’ displayed in the Ship Centre for all our visitors to see.


Phil Cox, Charles Ferris, Leonard Cole and Robert Gibbs

Phil took the opportunity to get his watch fixed (new battery required) and to have it properly reset to the right time zone, day and date!  Charles’ antique half-hunter is still running well and just requires winding!

You can come and visit the Ship Centre any Friday or Saturday until the end of October, and then Saturdays only until mid December. Entry is free, but we welcome your donations. We would love to see you there and tell you our stories!

Friends of Newport Ship visit the Basque Region


The Friends of Newport Ship have been strengthening their relationships with maritime heritage group Albaola, based in Pasaia, near San Sebastian in the Basque Region of Northern Spain.


Barrels of Pine Tar

FoNS were specially invited guests to celebrations surrounding the arrival of the convoy bringing the year’s crop of pine tar from the forests near Burgos, some 300 km away from Pasaia. The tar was transported in barrels loaded onto ox-carts that had already taken 18 days to make the journey.

The arrival of the caravan was celebrated at an event at San Sebastian Town Hall, watched over by the mayor and leaders of several heritage groups. The final segment of the journey took us 4 miles over the hill into Pasaia with the FoNS team in company – with Phil Cox, Charles Ferris and Rob Kenny in appropriate medieval outfits.

En route, we were welcomed into Pasaia by their mayor and we continued through the town, along the river to the Albaola shipyard; following the three ox-carts.


Ox carts in the streets of Pasaia

Albaola, the local maritime heritage group is currently building a full size replica of the San Juan. The original vessel was found on the sea bed in Red Bay, Newfoundland. Built in 1563 by the Basques; this whaling ship was 27m long and had perhaps 6 attendant 11m whalers, each with a crew of 7 to go and catch whales, and tow them back to Red Bay where they would be rendered down and the primary product, whale oil, recovered.  The original vessel was preserved by the freezing waters of Red Bay, recovered and researched by Parcs Canada, and now being faithfully replicated by Albaola.

This project has so many synergies with our own Newport Medieval Ship; together creating greater understanding the way that both ships were built. Our own Newport ship predates the San Juan by 114 years, and is a magnificent example of large Basque clinker-built vessels. By the time that the San Juan was built, the technology had changed; she was carvel built, with her frames assembled first and clad with the oak planking.

However the challenges of growing the oak trees, working the timber to create the shapes needed, fixing them with iron rivets and treenails and making a ship strong enough to survive the Atlantic Ocean, are the same.

The San Juan project undertaken by Albaola is ground-breaking and massive. In a town where there is no tourism, they have welcomed 50,000 visitors this year, generating a direct income of over 200,000 Euros.  They have created 23 permanent jobs, some welcoming and guiding visitors, but the majority rediscovering skills lost for generations as they work with huge oak trees to create the components for the San Juan.

The project is supported by both local and regional governments, and with a sizeable contribution from corporate sponsors.

Is this a model for the future of the Newport Medieval Ship?  The Basques are indeed very keen to follow the San Juan project with another, using our plans – recreating the yet bigger clinker vessel that we have here in Newport.

With all the other attractions that Newport has to offer, it has been estimated by the Council’s consultants, that we might expect over 150,000 additional visitors each year to see the Newport Medieval Ship, potentially generating some £7million to the local economy.  Now that’s a huge boost for Newport!

Future collaboration between FoNS and Albaola is likely to take the form of a series of visits and seminars, where each organisation and our members and followers can learn from the experiences of the other.


Charles Ferris, Xabi Agotier (Albaola), the Mayor of Pasaia, Rob Kenny & Phil Cox

Newport Medieval Ship on show at Civic Centre


The Friends of Newport Ship have presented Newport City Council with a print of their definitive portrait of the Newport Medieval Ship by Peter G Power, a fellow of the Society of Marine Artists.

The artist’s impression of how the ship may have appeared is based on extensive research undertaken by Pat Tanner, the project’s consultant shipwright.  Mr Tanner was commissioned by Newport City Council to carry out the research, from which he concluded that the ship is far greater than was originally thought.

This print of the painting of the Newport Medieval Ship (the original of which is on show in Newport Museum) is to hang in the main reception of the Civic Centre.

Councillor Debbie Harvey, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport received the print on behalf of the council.

Councillor Harvey said: “I am delighted to receive the print on loan from the Friends of Newport Ship and I am sure it will be a great attraction for all those who visit the Civic Centre.”

Philip Cox, chairman of the Friends of Newport Ship added, “The painting acts as a visible reminder to all visitors of the sheer scale of this Ship. She forms part of the future of Newport as a destination for heritage tourism which will help further regenerate our city.”

The painting is on loan until a permanent home for the ship, in which it can be reconstructed and displayed for all to see, can be identified.

All of the ship’s timbers will be back in the conservation store at the Medieval Ship Centre by the end of 2018, ready for re-assembly.

The Ship Centre is open on Fridays and Saturdays, hosted by the Friends of Newport Ship who are happy to guide visitors around the displays and tell the stories behind the archaeology.

FoNS Crew visit CADW’s big event at Beaumaris Castle

Beaumaris Aug2016 (1)

The August bank holiday weekend Medieval event at CADW’s Beaumaris Castle seemed set to be superb. A gorgeous setting, blue cloudless skies… Saturday was just lovely! …until…

Rain Stopped Play.     It certainly stopped us in our tracks!

In the early hours of Sunday morning we were woken up by the rain on the roof of our caravan. Usually we find the sound of the rain very soothing.  Not this time! It was so heavy that the noise of it was terrible.  We could see lightening near by, but the sound of the rain was so loud that it drowned out the thunder.

There was no wind so the rain fell straight down for hours. There was nothing to blow it away. It seemed that a month’s worth of rain fell overnight.

Beaumaris Aug2016 (3)Sunday morning found us tired and yawning at the castle gate, only to be told that the castle would be closed to the public for the day.  The inner ward was flooded, and the unfortunate re-enactors were ankle deep in water in places. Some of them were so sodden that they had to leave, taking their dripping tents and saturated woollen clothes home to dry.

We checked our tents, in the outer ward, and found they had held up well. No leaks, just a bit of dampness on the tablecloth which had been touching the wall of the tent. So Sunday was a day of rest.

Happily the grounds of the castle are well drained, and Monday was bright and fair. Open for business, but fewer visitors than we’d hoped for, due to local publicity (including the BBC evening News) about the flooding.

All things considered it was a good weekend and I m sure it would be good to take part in future events there.  The setting is just perfect for us to show off our travelling exhibition.

Special thanks to Kate & John who formed the backbone of the FoNS Crew, and also to David & Aaron who took on the roles of Moneyer / Coin Striker) and his Protector.  It was great to get the word out about our amazing project to a new audience in North Wales – we hope that some will come and visit us at the Medieval Ship Centre on any of our regular open days: Fridays & Saturdays until the end of October, then Saturdays only until mid-December.  Please check our web site for more details

Cardiff Garrison to Visit Medieval Ship Project


The medieval, living-history re-enactment society, The Cardiff Castle Garrison will be demonstrating fourteenth century weapons, armour and crafts at the Medieval Ship Centre on Saturday 20 August.

This should be a fascinating day to complement the regular displays at the Ship Centre and give an amazing insight into medieval life and times.

It’s free to come in, but we welcome donations towards the running of the exhibition and support of the Medieval Ship project. We will be open from 10.30am until 4.00pm – we look forward to seeing you there.