Sunday, 28 February 2010

"This is a waste of time..."

British Sign Language Translation

Two weeks ago, The Comet of Port Glasgow was lifted from her display space in the town centre and carefully transferred onto a low loader. Apart from one very scary cracking noise as the boat was first lifted...the whole process went off without a hitch. The Comet was then driven 1/4 mile to Fergusons where she now sits, ready for the refurbishment work to begin.

But why are we bothering at all?

Comet Rebuilt will refurbish The Comet in time for the Tall Ships event next year and also to provide a vital tourist centrepiece for the Comet bicentennial celebrations in 2012. It will employ 9 local people and all work will be undertaken at Ferguson Shipbuilders in Port Glasgow. Quite frankly, that would be reason enough for some folk - but there is another good reason - pride. The Comet isn't just a wee boat thats gotten stuck at the bottom end of Tesco's Car Park, it's a boat whose international and historical significance deserves to be celebrated in the town of her birth.

This project is the result of months of negotiation and planning and in the two weeks since it has been announced, it has already provoked some very strong opinions - positive and negative. Likewise, there's a lot of interest in "what happens next?" Lots of people are keen to know whether or not The Comet will be relocated after the refurbishment or if the "Comet plaque" held in storage in our local museum will be on display at any point. In all honesty, at this point...who knows? We're more immediately concerned with the work required on the boat...

Here's the thing, when you work "in the community" you very quickly have to accept that you cannot please all of the people all of the time. So for every person that's really excited or interested in what you are doing, there will be another who thinks it's a waste of time - especially if they aren't involved. It's really easy to criticize, and in Inverclyde we've almost turned it into an art form - I sometimes wonder how James Watt managed the whole "invention of the steam engine" project at all with all the people roundabout him presumably telling him that there was no point or that it couldn't be done. Or maybe this is a more recent trait amongst Inverclyders...who knows?

This is all by way of saying...this isn't a space to debate the perceived rights and wrongs of the Comet Rebuilt project - it's a space to find out how its going.

We'll take a look at some of the history of The Comet (original and 1960s replica), we'll be running a few competitions, looking at the art project to "fill the gap" left by The Comet and of course we'll be keeping you regularly updated with images and video of the refurbishment itself - warts and all.

This project is based entirely on partnership, Inverclyde Council, The Trust at 7 1/2 and Ferguson Shipbuilders are all working hard to make this a reality...the final vital partner is the community of Port Glasgow itself.