The SS Robin at Trinity Buoy Wharf. Image by Harry Dwyer.

Victorian steamship SS Robin returns home to Blackwall

Just 150 meters from its construction site in 1890, the last remaining Victorian Steamship SS Robin has returned to Blackwall.

The SS Robin, the last Victorian steamship, has been moved to Trinity Buoy Wharf in Blackwall in December becoming part of an open-air museum showing London’s maritime history.

The SS Robin moved to its new location from the Royal Docks in the London Borough of Newham. This move returns the Ship to the River Lea within 150 meters of its place of origin. Mackenzie, MacAlpine & Co built the the ship at Orchard Yard in 1890.

Pushed to Trinity Buoy Wharf on December 10, 2023, the SS Robin rests three meters above the water on a purpose-built pontoon. The pontoon helps protect the ship for the future.

SS Robin has joined the rest of the collection of Heritage Vessels at Trinity Buoy Wharf. Together they make up a free open-air museum that helps to illustrate the maritime history of London.

Over the next few months, Trinity Buoy Wharf will create practical access to the ship. This will enable the examination of archival material and allow visitors to tour the ship.

Built in 1890, she crisscrossed the Channel and steamed up and down the coast of Britain carrying cargo until 1900. The next 74 years she spent working along the northwestern Spanish coast in the choppy waters of the Atlantic for various Spanish owners under the name Maria.

The exception was during WW1, when the ship had an important wartime role for the French government. It carried pig iron essential to the war effort to France under the escort of French warships. 

Saved from scrapping in 1974, the ship steamed back to the UK under her own power for restoration. 

Eric Reynolds, the Chairman of the SS Robin Trust and founding director of Urban Space Management that manages Trinity Buoy Wharf said: ‘The SS Robin is an outstanding ship which epitomises the important history of the East End. I am looking forward to the new future for the Robin’

Returning home to Trinity Buoy Wharf, image by Harry Dwyer.

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