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ANDREW BATCHELOR: North Carr Lightship is doomed – it didn’t have to end like this

The North Carr is full of stories, good and bad. Let's hope its memory, if not the ship itself, can be preserved.

The North Carr lightship moored in City Quay, Dundee.
The North Carr lightship is set ti be deconstructed after attempts to restore ut failed. Image: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson.

It was the ship that I thought would one day be restored.

But I was heartbroken to hear the announcement that the North Carr Lightship is facing deconstruction in the new year.

This ship is full of stories, both good and bad, from its role in the Mona lifeboat disaster to being a museum ship in Anstruther after its decommissioning.

There may be some people who believe that it might not have too much of a significance to Dundee, but to me, it very much does.

The North Carr lightship was bought from a scrapyard for £1.

Taymara buying the vessel from a scrapyard in 2010 for just £1 saw the potential for a revival for the North Carr – and some of the plans looked ambitious but exciting.

One of the plans was to have the North Carr berthed next to the Unicorn by the East Graving Dock, with the aim of having a dual attraction. This would have been fantastic!

Sadness and anger

I would have loved to have seen a restored North Carr next to the Unicorn, and it would have allowed visitors to learn more about the importance of Scotland’s last remaining lightship.

I was speaking to a lot of people about this news and there was a lot of sadness and anger.

Many gutted about the news of its impending deconstruction, others angry that it has come to this, with the ship having been left to sit in a state of disrepair. I share that sentiment.

But there was so many heartwarming memories and stories shared too – showing me and many others the love Dundonians have for the ship.

The Broughty Ferry Lifeboat ‘Mona’ stranded on the beach at Buddon after disaster, on December 12 1959, after it went to assist the North Carr.

Exciting times for City Quay

The City Quay complex encompassing Victoria Dock, where the North Carr resides, is going through an exciting redevelopment thanks to the likes of Wild Shore Dundee and Chroma Ventures, who have invested in the transformation of the dock.

And with the anticipation of Eden Project, it has the potential of being a new hotspot for tourists visiting the city.

It is just a real shame that the North Carr won’t be here to see this place transformed into something very special.

The HMS Unicorn is on the opposite side of the North Carr Lightship in terms of restoration.

HMS Unicorn is neighbour to the North Carr Lightship at City Quay. Image: Mhairi Edwards/DC Thomson.

We saw recently some of the exciting new plans for the Unicorn’s renovation, with the addition of a new visitor centre which aims to open by 2030.

If this is the end of the North Carr, I hope its story will be immortalised within the new Unicorn visitor centre. It makes sense if the Unicorn is about to lose its closest neighbour.

I do hope that maybe some of the ship can be retained. The beacon itself could be put on display somewhere, be it the McManus, the new Unicorn visitor centre, or even Broughty Ferry Lifeboat Station.

As much as I am saddened, I can understand the reasons why Taymara have made this decision, as the North Carr has been slowly deteriorating for many years.

Inside the North Carr Lightship.
The North Carr’s condition has deteriorated at a concerning rate

Earlier this year, I described the North Carr Lightship as an attraction that could become a beacon of Dundee tourism.

I believe it would have, but due to lack of funding and no one, as of yet, having any alternative plans to restore her, I’m afraid it isn’t to be.

I’m gutted that this is how the story ends for this 90-year old vessel. It will soon be gone, but its memories and stories will last forever.