Saving one of Ballina’s historic treasures
PLANS are progressing to protect one of Australia's most historically significant vessels, which is currently in the care of a Ballina museum.
The PV Richmond is situated on the grassed area near the entrance to the Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum.
But at the moment, its only protection from the elements ‒ and vandals ‒ is a failing shelter.
The pilot vessel was added to the Australian Register of Historical Vessels in May this year and since then Ballina Shire Council and the museum volunteers have been working on a plan to ensure the vessel is preserved well into the future.
It is proposed to extend the museum building to fully enclose the PV Richmond, modify the front entry, counter and walkway areas, and to provide for an internal unisex accessible bathroom.
The museum would contribute $150,000 towards these works, while the council has allocated $50,000.
The estimated building costs, based on the preliminary design, is $374,900 resulting in a budget shortfall of $177,400.
In the meantime, councillors have voted to allocate funding for immediate repair works on the current structure protecting the PV Richmond.
In a letter to the council, president of the museum, Richard Greaves, said the vessel's addition to the Australian Register of Historical Vessels was important.
"This listing is significant and recognises her uniqueness as a rare surviving example of her type and her close connection to the Richmond River and the people of Ballina," he wrote.
"The museum has commenced some preservation works on the PV Richmond to remediate the damage to her structure which has accumulated over many years of exposure to the elements.
"Additionally, as she is in the open, she is subject to interference and damage from the public."
History of the PV Richmond (sourced from the Ballina Naval and Maritime Museum)
The treacherous nature of the bar crossing to the ocean from the Richmond River was responsible for many wrecks over the years.
River Pilots became a necessity to ensure the safety of vessels moving in and out of the Port Of Ballina.
The PV Richmond is a double-ended, wooden motor launch and was built for the NSW Pilotage Service by W.L Holmes Boat Builders Sydney, 1932.
After being commissioned, she was sailed up the coast to Ballina replacing an ageing 'whaling boat' which had been in service since 1927.
Her journey up the coast was not easy.
She was buffeted by heavy seas with waves breaking over the deck and was forced to shelter at Byron Bay.
She arrived in Ballina under Cpt. Lyttle (Pilot) in early May.
In that first year of service 130 ships and boats visited the Port of Ballina.
She was retired in 1982 after 50 years of work and presented to Ballina as a link between the NSW Pilotage Service and the people of the town.