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All aboard the SS Robin

Boats are a common sight in Docklands, but whilst walking around Royal Wharf and the Royal Docks recently there was one ship that caught my eye.

Built in 1890, the SS Robin can be found opposite Millennium Mills, just a mile from where she was originally built.

After a bit of investigating I learnt that the team looking after Robin run the odd event, so I jumped on board to learn more!

SS Robin at London’s Royal Victoria Dock

SS Robin

SS Robin and her sister ship Rook were built in Orchard Yard, Blackwall in 1890. For the first ten years of her life she carried barrelled herring, coal, china clay and granite for the Caledonian Canal.

SS Robin

Image: James Spillane

In 1900 SS Robin was sold to a Spanish company and renamed Maria. She worked in Spain (mostly carrying coal along the North West Atlantic Coast) until 1974.

SS Robin

In 1974 the Maritime Trust were on the hunt for ships that were historically important. Maria was about to be broken up when she was rescued by the trust and brought back to London.


Back in London, Maria’s name was changed to Robin once again. After a five-year restoration programme, Robin was moved to St Katherine’s Docks as part of the National Historic Fleet visitor attraction.

SS Robin engine room

Image: Alex Pesaro

In 1991 Robin was moved to West India Quay. She stayed there for over a decade before being assessed and restored in Lowestoft.

SS Robin engine

Image: Alex Pesaro

The decision was taken to move Robin onto a floating pontoon permanently. That decision was made because it would preserve the boat, but it also means we can all admire her original hull.

anchor chain SS Robin

Image: Alex Pesaro

Today you can find her at the Royal Victoria Dock, just one mile from where she was originally built.

SS Robin is normally closed to visitors, but is open for occasional tours. Email info@ssrobin.com or visit www.ssrobin.com for more information.

All images published with permission from www.ssrobin.org