THE oldest surviving traditional North East coast coble is set to be restored to full sail once again 121 years after being first launched.

Built in Hartlepool as a six-plank pilot coble in 1900 she has survived the rigours of time and a watery grave.

The Bridlington Sailing Coble Preservation Society (BSCPS) is living up to its name with the acquisition of this historic coble to restore and preserve. Prolonged negotiations have taken place between Hartlepool Borough Council and the Society to receive both the Venus and the Viking, a double-ended pilot boat, as museum transfers.

This will enable both vessels to be fully restored, regularly sailed and become part of the growing fleet of sailing cobles based in Bridlington harbour.

Venus is quite unique as a surviving pilot coble, one of the many that worked from Hartlepool during the 1800s and very early 1900s to take pilots out to incoming ships and guide them safely into the port.

They carried a crew of just two, the pilot and his assistant, or 'dog' as he was known.

Pilots worked from Hartlepool, Redcar and Seaton Carew as far back as the 1750's.

Competition was fierce between the pilots and often these small cobles would go as far down the coast as Flamborough Head looking for vessels bound for the Tees.

For those working from the Tees the lettering 'TEES' had to be painted in white amidships, those from Redcar with a Tees licence also had to have 'TEES' painted on the bows, followed by their registered number.

The Hartlepool pilot boats had 'TEES' amidships but instead of the lettering on the bows they had the registered number and an 'H'.

It is possible Venus had been a pilot coble belonging to the Burnicle family, and could well have been named Olive Branch originally, although reference has also been found of a coble of the same name being owned by John Chilton Hood of Seaton Carew.

Venus was rescued from the water after sinking in the town's dock in 1992 by retired Hartlepool lifeboat coxswain Eric Reeve who fitted new planks in her hull.

Mr Reeve sold her to the late Dr Dave Kipling of Seaham Harbour, a GP at the Hartlepool Headland Practice, in 1994.

Many of Dr Kipling's patients helped him with his restoration project by donating a wide range of coble equipment which had long been discarded and forgotten in sheds, outhouses and attics; thole pins, oars, travellers, block for sailing ropes and many more items all being donated.

Work will then begin on Viking and the two latest additions to the Bridlington fleet will take their place alongside the other heritage vessels in the harbour next year.

She was later in the ownership of Hartlepool Borough Council.

The Harbour Heritage Museum, Harbour Road, Bridlington; which has a large collection of maritime artefacts, models and information, together with a souvenir shop; is also operated by the BSCPS.

It has recently re-opened after the lock-down period on restricted hours, mainly due to the lack of volunteer staff.

The Society would like to hear from anyone wishing to help volunteer for the museum and work on a rota basis with others so it can be fully open every day.

Those interested are asked to contact the BSCPS Secretary by email at