EMSWORTH’S last surviving oysterboat could be handed over to the community in a bid to boost tourism.
Terror, which was built in 1880 at Foster’s boatyard by oyster baron JD Foster, is facing a fresh challenge in her long and often turbulent career.
Chichester Harbour Conservancy, which runs and maintains the Terror, has arranged a public meeting at Emsworth Sailing Club to see if the community would eventually like to take ownership of the vessel.
It comes as the conservancy has admitted that in the long term, it may struggle to have enough funding to keep the boat afloat.
Terror takes up to six passengers on trips along the Emsworth Channel.
A decade ago, £100,000 of lottery money was spent on restoring the boat to its former glory at Dolphin Quay boatyard in Emsworth. Before that the vessel had been stored in a greenhouse in Southbourne and was on a mud berth at Tipner during the second world war.
Chris Clode, commodore of Emsworth Sailing Club, said: “It ought to be a tourist attraction. It should be like HMS Victory and the Mary Rose.
‘This is a working traditional oysterboat and is still going strong. It has been beautifully restored and we do not want to lose that boat. It should be on the water and used for tourists.’
Chairwoman of Emsworth Forum Stephanie Elsy said: “I think it would be a shame if this resource was lost to our tourism community and the community.
“I would think people would be interested in seeing what can be done to keep it going.”
Siun Cranny, conservancy director, said: “Now beautifully restored, she is skippered and crewed by a dedicated band of volunteer sailors drawn largely from the Emsworth sailing clubs.
“Despite this huge level of support, and some funding from the Friends of Chichester Harbour, the vessel still requires significant resources from the conservancy to keep her afloat.”
She added: “We are now looking to see if there is enthusiasm locally to take on the full commitment of Terror in the future.’
The public meeting takes place on Wednesday, May 14 at 7pm.
To register for the event, contact Adrian Karn, deputy harbour master, at email@example.com or 01243 512301.