Historic Clyde-built sailing ship Pommern reopens to visitors

One of the world’s few surviving Clyde-built sailing ships has been restored and is drawing visitors to its home on the Baltic Sea.

Pommern is described as a 'remarkable survivor' of lost era of Clyde shipbuilding. Picture: Wikicommons

Pommern was constructed in 1903 at John Reid & Co shipbuilders in Whiteinch, Glasgow, before a career spent transporting goods across the globe.

She was retired in the 1950s and has spent decades as a museum ship in the town of Mariehamn in Aland, an autonomous region of Finland.

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The attraction reopened in May after an 18-month refurbishment and now offers an interactive experience for visitors to imagine life on the waves.

Pommern was launched at White's yard in Whiteinch, Glasgow, in 1903. Picture: Wikicommons

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The Aland Maritime Museum Trust describes Pommern as the only four-masted merchant sailing ship in the world still in its original state.

The trust hopes to build on the 35,000 visitors it receives each season from May to September.

Emily Malcolm, curator of transport and technology with Glasgow Museums, said: “Pommern is a remarkable survivor from the heyday of shipbuilding on the Clyde.

“Most people associate shipbuilding on the river with large steam ships like the Queen Mary and Aquitania, but many Clyde shipbuilders specialised in building sailing vessels until the first decade of the 20th century.

“Pommern’s builders, John Reid &; Co, were one of these, but sailing ships were built quite widely on the Clyde by Barclay, Curle & Co, William Hamilton & Co, and Anderson Rodger & Co - who were the builders of Glasgow’s own tall ship, the Glenlee, in 1896.”

Two trainees from the International Boatbuilding Training College in Portsmouth assisted with the Pommern renovation programme.

A bespoke dock was created which can be dried out for inspections and maintenance work on the hull, and on board the main deck and jigger mast have been restored, keeping to the original structure as far as possible.

Pommern, originally called the Mneme, started as a cargo carrier in German hands before being purchased by Aland ship owner Gustaf Erikson in 1923.

Over the years she carried timber from Scandinavia, saltpetre from Chile and grain from Australia, sailing her final commercial voyage in 1939.

She is said to have had a reputation as a lucky ship, having survived both World Wars and winning the Great Grain Race twice.

A new exhibition, Pommern - 100 Days Under Sail, uses sound and light features to tell the crew’s own stories.

Heidi Viktorsson, head of exhibition and learning at the Aland Maritime Museum Trust, said: “Being a big sailing ship, with its grand masts and beautiful hull and the proud figurehead in the front, I believe Pommern attracts a lot of tourists just by its appearance.

“Among people interested in maritime history, Aland is known for its sailing cargo vessels, and Pommern being the last four-masted barque preserved in original shape makes her very special.”