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Published 7th Nov 2011

the Cob

The owner of a historic tugboat will mark the vessel’s 100th birthday by sailing an emotional journey down the River Tees to the place of its original launch.

The 100-year-old ‘Cob’ was built at Middlesbrough’s famous Smiths Dock and was launched on November 7th, 1911.

The Cob’s owner, boat enthusiast James Muggoch, discovered the derelict Cob almost quarter of a century ago and returned it to its former glory with much time and effort.

Cob sailing on the TeesLast month James sailed the 350-mile trip from the Cob’s mooring on the Thames, near London’s Kew Bridge, to the Tees to see the Transporter Bridge’s Centenary celebrations.

The humble little boat proved a big hit with visitors and James had the best seat in the house to watch the spectacular firework display from the Cob on the river.

On Monday the Cob will have its own special day when it sails from the Transporter Bridge to Smiths Dock, which launched its last ship in 1986 after 80 years of ship-building.

Once there Middlesbrough artist Eamonn McGovern will present James with a painting of the Cob sailing under the Transporter Bridge which he painted to mark the event.

“I am sure I will have an overwhelming sense of achievement,” said James, 62.

“When I first bought the Cob I set out to restore her and I thought it would be a real adventure to take her back to where she was launched.

“To actually bring her to her birthplace on that day is really special.”

James believes the Cob is the oldest surviving Smiths Dock vessel that is still sea-worthy. Over the years he has fitted new decks, wheel house, day cabins, hull and rebuilt the engines and bulkheads.

Originally named Smiths Dock No 3, the boat saw service with the Royal Navy as 'Mary' at Scapa Flow during the First World War.

Renamed the 'Cob' it was sold to Micky Devlin of Tyne Towage Co. for £1 by Swan Hunter and finally to James.

Claire Wordsworth, from the Love Middlesbrough campaign, has helped James achieve his dream of bringing the Cob home.

She said: “The Cob is such a lovely story and James bringing her home gives people the chance to see a working piece of River Tees history.”

Members of the public will be able to have free trips on the Cob up and down the Tees on the morning of Monday, November 7. To book a place call James on 07507 844 898.



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