Glala is now listed on the National Register of Historic Vessels and is in the National Historic Fleet. This does not confer the protection that a listed building would have but the plan is to treat her very much like one by conserving the original as much as possible. Leaving her in a dilapidated state is not an option because the structure is self-destructing through rot and rust and will continue to decay if left to nature.



One day she will be something like this drawing. Essentially this is her late 1930s form, with a few modifications. There will be, for example, new cowl vents to help preserve her (old wooden boats need lots of air to keep them dry!) and she has to meet current navigation regulations.

Full restoration, in the sense of returning her to some notional original state, is not possible or even desirable. Over the years she has been modified: the wheelhouse replaced an open cockpit and the funnel was added long after. She blew up, she was rebuilt, modifications have been made, and repaired, all of which are part of her history. Also, she will continue to be used for her original purpose and to meet this purpose she has to be seaworthy. The clock cannot be turned back or be stopped so we have to consider carefully how it is to continue forward.


Most of her major structure; the hull and forward superstructure can be restored, reconstruction with new materials only being necessary here and there. The teak planking is in remarkably good condition but some of the oak frames and elm ribs need attention. Replacement of a plank or a frame is quite normal in the life of a wooden boat and only a small percentage of the total fabric of the hull has to be replaced. Where possible we will replace like with like, but availability of materials means we may have to substitue different timbers, oak for elm for example, and we may laminate frames using modern glues because timber with a suitably curved grain is hard to find nowadays. In order to preserve her we will also be bracing the structure here and there with heavy floors and bulkhead frames.

The teak wheelhouse was an addition by Camper & Nicholsons, probably in 1920, and although its interior has been modified over the years the major structure survives in very good condition and can be restored. Most of the original navigation equipment disappeared long ago and will have to be replaced.


The accommodation aft is the most damaged part of the boat and is the biggest dilemma. The original interior would have been partly dismantled in 1943 when two large pumps were installed by the National Fire Service and it was completely destroyed later by an explosion. When it was rebuilt in 1946-47 little of the original fabric was retained and many of the details including the internal layout were changed. A restoration is impossible because there is no original fabric to be restored and any attempt at reconstruction is likely to result in fake history, indeed the destruction in the 1940s is part of her history.

The best route is probably what is sometimes described as rehabilitation. There is sufficient documentation to build a new cabin that will be along the lines of the original and will preserve her appearance but it will be closer to what was built in 1947 than 1915. It will have a new layout and will be built to a high standard. Some of the original fittings including some of the bronze portholes survived and will be reused.


Since 1947 the decks have been relaid repeatedly using ply and a veneer of teak. The new decks will be laid in the traditional manner in solid teak, using reclaimed timber, and will be closer to the type of deck that she originally had. Again, replacement of decks is quite normal in the life of a boat. The original hatches, which probably date back to 1915, survive in quite good condition and can be restored. Where a new hatch is needed it will be built along the lines of the originals. The funnel will be returned to its original - 1938 - size and position.


One of Glala's most significant features is the full size engine room which is evidence of her origins as a motor boat in the age of steam. This will be retained and we wouldn't consider following the plans that were drawn up by a naval architect in the 1980s to modernise her by putting the engines into a compartment under a deckhouse. As a matter of safety the ancient fuel tanks will be replaced. The engines that were installed in 1985 will be reinstalled and she will have completely new electrics and plumbing.


So it will be a mix of restoration, reconstruction and, in the case of the cabin aft, complete renewal. Her essential form and function will be preserved and she will be built to a standard that will last for many years. If the methods and materials are right the work will not be jarringly modern, nor will it be faked history. It will be a logical step in vessel No.144471's continuing evolution.