Last Wednesday’s training evening for Civil Defence volunteers took them to an unusual venue – the dock of the world’s oldest sea yacht, the Peggy in Castletown. Earlier this year, the area in front of Peggy’s boathouse was excavated by archaeologists from Oxford Archaeology North, commissioned by Manx National Heritage. Rather than the expected slipway, a beautifully constructed dock was discovered, which would have enabled Peggy’s owner George Quayle to float her gently in and out of the boathouse in the late 1700s.
Timber gates formed part of the dock and with the removal of the ground around them, they were vulnerable to the sea that still fills and empties the dock each day.
To help support the gates until they can be further examined, it required sandbags to be placed around them. With their extensive experience of assisting during the recent floods, the members of the Isle of Man Civil Defence were the natural experts to construct the sandbag wall.
Allison Fox, Curator: Archaeology, MNH said;
‘The task of supporting the timber sea-gates at The Nautical Museum with a wall of sandbags was rather daunting with numerous logistical challenges, but with the planning, experience, efficiency and sheer physical effort of the Civil Defence volunteers the work was completed and a wall of 400 sandbags was soon in place. The sandbag wall will protect the fragile gates over the coming winter and help ensure the protection of this unique part of the Island’s maritime heritage. MNH would like to sincerely thank Civil Defence and the Department of Infrastructure for their help.’
Emergency Planning Officer Ian Young said;
‘Civil Defence were delighted to assist and in treating the operation as an exercise we hope in some small way we have helped in the important preservation work that is being carried out by MNH.’
The work formed part of an ambitious programme to conserve and study The Peggy. Later on this year the boat will be removed from her cellar to an environmentally controlled workshop where she will undergo further analysis and conservation along with the archaeological discoveries found during the recent excavations of the dock.