SHE was found abandoned in a Spanish port in the early 1990s and was destined to be scrapped.

The former Spanish navy sail training ship had been languishing for decades and was in poor shape from the glory days of her launch in 1896 in Port Glasgow.

And the Tallship Glenlee’s story is one of resilience and survival, but she is now facing another battle as she celebrates her 125th year – a battle to secure funding for her long term future.

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Owned by the Clyde Maritime Trust, her three masts are an impressive site on the Glasgow riverside skyline and she is now berthed at the Riverside Museum, at Pointhouse Quay.

Originally a British cargo vessel, under later owners, she was named Islamount and Clarastella, but her history is a little hazy when she under Italian ownership, she then became a sail training icon of the Spanish Navy, Galatea. For 70 years, the ship was dear in the hearts of men who sailed her and the residents of Ferrol, her home port.

Trust volunteer and vice chair Elizabeth Allen explained how she was abandoned in Seville and stripped of her brass work and damaged by fire, masts and yards lowered.

“There was plans for her to be sold by the Spanish Navy. She would have been scrapped, until someone spotted her and knew of her history. She is now facing another great battle, but with a 125 year history she is a fighter. She’s had to be.”

It was in 1993 that a now 92-year-old founder trustee Hamish Hardie, an Olympian yachtsman, began a mission to save her and bring her home.

The trust managed to get £40,000 together and paid the sum of money she was worth as scrap.

Mr Hardie MBE, who competed for Great Britain in sailing in 1948, was on the voyage which brought her home with the help of support tug Wallasey. She finally returned to the Clyde in June 1993 for the first time, ninety-seven years after her launch.

Mr Hardie recalled: “We were lucky to get her back in several ways really - the auctioneer, the bank, the tug, the weather, the much done on trust …like yesteryear.

“There was lots of practical goodwill towards the ship, that’s how we managed to restore her, thousands of hours of volunteer time and companies helping in kind. The Clyde has a way of not letting go.”

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Built on the River Clyde at the Bay Yard in Port Glasgow Anderson Rodger and Co. She is one of five Clydebuilt steel sailing ships still afloat, and is now the only one in the UK. the

Made of steel manufactured or rolled locally in Lanarkshire, it took about six months to complete the ship using the skills of many different tradesmen, who were masters in the building of a wind-driven cargo ship, built to carry large loads cheaply over long distance.

She now requires to be taken out of the water and put in dry dock – something which should happen every 10 years.

Colin Botfield, trust chairman, said: “We are now overdue in terms of getting her into dry dock. While she is in brackish water (a mixture of saline and freshwater) which does help, she still really needs to go into dry dock as the work we can do there in terms of scraping off years of marine growth, replating and painting steeland. Fixing anything we’ve not been able to see under the waterline which is vital for her future.

“Closure as a result of Covid and the need to drydock for hull repairs means we need financial help like never before. Glenlee has survived two World Wars and the Spanish Civil War, numerous roundings of the three great Capes (Good Hope, Horn & Leeuwin), avoided icebergs and crossed the tropics. She has many times weighed anchor and come safe to port and, today her biggest threats are still money and water.

“We receive £200,000 a year from Glasgow City Council, but we require £400,000 a year to run and the balance comes from a variety of sources. It will cost us more than that to put her in dry dock even for a few weeks. We estimate it will be in the region of £450,000.”

The trust is looking to the future and what they can do differently.

“We can’t go to the same funding pots all the time and we are a free to see tourist attraction, that was that written in our charter and that’s not something we want to change,” added Mr Botfield.

The trustees have been thinking outside the box when it comes to revenue streams and are looking a flag advertising.

They have secured £5000 in advertising from a local firm Think Analytics whose flag will appear on the masts.

“We have room for over 30 flags so that would bring in £150,000. You could also argue she is one of the oldest wind turbines in the world and with our close proximity to the SEC event campus where COP26 will be held later this year, it is something we would love to be involved with in some way either for event hire or meetings, but we do need to come up with new ideas for revenue streams.”

Moving to her new home at Kelvin Harbour in 2010, they have also acquired a few other vessels including one of which is thought to have been part of the Dunkirk evacuation. And while they are delighted to have the Starcrest vessel among the fleet, there is upkeep costs there as well.

Mrs Allen added: “While we can’t be exactly sure, given her age we do believe that she would have been involved in Dunkirk operation.”

Generations of young and old come on board the ship and there is a educational programme for youngsters as well and Mr Botfield believes everyone can play a part. They are always grateful to the dedication of the staff, volunteers and trustees.

“This is where we really need the public’s support. Come and see us, tell people about us,” he added. “We do rely on donations and the people of Glasgow and elsewhere have been very good to us over the years, we just want to preserve the vessel for them and generations to come.”