In 2016 the oldest Brixham built and rigged sailing trawler was given an authentic restoration and refit thanks to funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the South Devon Coastal Local Action Group. Sleeping up to 15, including 3 crew, interior of the 1895 trawler was re-constructed to provide suitable accommodation for public cruises, using traditional trade methods local to South Devon.
Since its restoration and refit which was undertaken by South Devon tradespeople, The Pilgrim has offered half day tours, bed and breakfast, week long cruises, parties and even wakes to members of the public. Open to novice and experienced sailors, trips on board the Pilgrim offer a comfortable example of what sailing on a nineteenth century trawler would have been like.
The Pilgrim is both a working tribute and an active contribution to the continuation of Brixham’s seafaring heritage. A not for profit organisation, the Pilgrim Preservation Project employs just two staff, and is otherwise run entirely by volunteers. In excess of £200,000 equivalent worth of work was completed by the Brixham based volunteer team to refit the interior of Pilgrim with handmade, largely wooden, craftsmanship including sleeping berths, a leafed oak dining table seating 15, a fitted kitchen and two heads [bathrooms]. The Pilgrim can be booked by anyone for almost any kind of experience. Local sails are a popular option, but the Pilgrim team is happy to tailor events to customers wishes, with a 50th birthday pirate themed party, seafood weekends and trips to scatter ashes at sea just some examples of previous bespoke customer bookings.
With the sailing season being between April and October, during the winter months, volunteers repair and maintain The Pilgrim using traditional methods. In doing this, a new generation are being taught heritage maritime skills, and are maintaining both an archive of her history and the methods that were used to build her originally. Although a large part of this project was funded by Heritage Lottery Funding, the Pilgrim team were also helped by the DR Company in Okehampton to obtain £60,000 of South Devon Coastal Local Action Group funding. The DR Company assisted the team in assessing their eligibility for the funding, completing their funding application and ensuring that work was carried out in accordance with the funding programme’s requirements.