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From | Wednesday 27 November 2019

Spirit to be delivered alongside a message in a bottle signed by Lord Mayor and 50 others.

Robb Robinson, centre, receiving bottles from Emma Kinton and Simon Pownall of Hotham’s Distillery.

A bottle of gin handmade by a Hull distillery is on its way to the Falkland Islands as a gift from a charity working to bring a historic steam trawler back to the city.

The spirit from Hotham's Gin School & Distillery will be delivered alongside a message in a bottle signed by the Lord Mayor of Hull, a trustee of the Viola campaign, and 50 others.

The signing was marked by a celebration launch of the new gin at 1884 Wine & Tapas Bar in Hull.

Dr Robb Robinson, a maritime historian and member of the Viola Trust, is now on the way to Port Stanley with the two bottles.

Dr Robinson also has a copy of the Viola Homeward Bound calendar signed by artist Larry Malkin and a copy of the book Viola: The Life and Times of a Hull Steam Trawler that he wrote with Ian Hart.

He arranged to deliver the gifts in person to Falkland Islands governor Nigel Phillips.

The Viola sits on a beach where she was mothballed following the closure in 1964–65 of the old whaling station in Grytviken, South Georgia. 

Efforts are being made to return the historic trawler Viola to Hull.

The Viola Trust, led by a group of business people with strong maritime and heritage credentials with former Home Secretary Alan Johnson as patron, has reached agreement with the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands for her removal from Cumberland East Bay on South Georgia and return to Hull.

The trust’s efforts now are focused on preparing for an environmental impact assessment prior to moving the Viola, negotiating with salvage experts for the vessel to be lifted and securing funds for a project which is expected to cost around £3 million.

Auction opens for place at Viola welcome party and signed calendar

The message in a bottle reads: “On behalf of the people of Kingston upon Hull and the wider East Yorkshire area, the Viola Trust sends greetings and best wishes. With our thanks for your support and assistance for our efforts to return the Viola to Hull, and with our hopes for successful completion of the project and a strong, lasting partnership, we send a selection of commemorative Viola gifts. We also assure you of the warmest welcome on your future visits to our city.”

Councillor Steve Wilson, Lord Mayor of Hull and Admiral of the Humber, was the first person to put his name on the message, donning his robes to be photographed for a signing ceremony which was later posted on his Twitter account.

Councillor Steve Wilson, Lord Mayor of Hull and Admiral of the Humber, signing the message in a bottle.

Dr Robinson said: “The Viola Trust contacted the Office of the Commissioner and he has agreed to welcome me to receive the gifts. I feel very honoured to have the opportunity to present these items which are a further demonstration of our collaboration between the Trust and the Government of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.”

The Viola was built in Beverley in 1906 and operated from Humber Dock – now Hull Marina – as part of the Hellyer fleet of boxing trawlers. She was requisitioned to defend the UK in the Great War and left Hull for the last time in 1918 on a career which took her to Norway, Africa and Argentina, catching fish, hunting whales and elephant seals and supporting expeditions in the South Atlantic. Read more about the vessel here.