From Warship to Waterfront

Mariners “1900” is a historic landmark along the Waterfront, and with the abundance of history on board the much-loved vessel, it would be rude not to educate you about its past, present and future. 

The vessel was built in 1899 by Acieries de Bruges and was initially used as a gunboat in Belgium. It was then commissioned to serve for the Belgian Military in both World Wars. It was sunk by the Germans in the Second World War, before being raised and repaired as a German warship for four years and subsequently given back to the Belgian authorities. Despite having (quite literally) been through the wars, that isn’t even the end of the road for the 1900. 

After the War, it became a Red Cross hospital and remained as such for a number of years under a new name - Florence Nightingale, from which you can imagine it saw many fatalities and holds a great deal of history! In the early 70s, it transformed into a party boat, formally known as a ‘gentleman’s club’ which operated for 18 years. 

In November 1990, the boat was handed over to Contship Ltd and crossed to Harwich, before mooring in Ipswich Docks. Residents of the area will remember its brief stint as Italian restaurant Il Punto which lasted only a year. The boat then turned its hand to French cuisine, and remains under this offering today. 

Onboard the boat, all the original documents (which includes transcripts of the vessel’s journeys) and original photographs can be found, and - once the vessel has completed its transformation – the plan is to display the history of the boat for all to enjoy. It’s not very often you get to come across all of the original history and artefacts of such a unique place: hoarding can be a good thing! In further news, the original searchlight, radar and horn are being refitted ‘as we speak’.