ONE of Britain’s most historic sailing ships is for sale at her Liverpool berth – with a £2m price tag.
The 113-year-old tall ship Kathleen & May, built at Connah’s Quay in Deeside, has already attracted interest from the Far East with an offer of £2.3m.
Another potential buyer would like to relocate the tall ship to Falmouth.
Agents for the tall ship’s owner, Steve Clarke, are urgently seeking a buyer or consortium to keep the tall ship in Liverpool.
Mr Clarke, 62, who runs a plant hire company at Bideford, Devon, wants the vessel to stay in the UK, preferably in Liverpool.
He is willing to accept the £2m valuation put on Kathleen & May by the Arts Council and the auction house Bonhams.
Mr Clarke is selling Kathleen & May because increasing health problems make it difficult to continue his involvement with the ship, which he entirely restored.
Ideally he would like the ship bought and put into a charitable trust to benefit from grants unavailable for one in private ownership.
The Arts Council has withheld an export licence until February 19 to ensure any UK interest has time to materialise into a bid.
Kathleen & May is Britain’s last main mast top sail schooner.
She is one of the few operational sailing vessels on the National Historic Ships’ Register of 50 core vessels and one of the first to be designated officially as a national treasure.
Since being relocated in 2010 from Bideford to Liverpool, the tall ship has had a high-profile berth by Merseyside Maritime Museum, in Canning Dock.
Mr Clarke’s agents, Jeff and Cindy Grice, who act as caretakers for the ship in Liverpool, are keen to remain in the city.
Mrs Grice said: “Any money raised towards the £2m price will be ‘gap- funded’ by the Arts Council. That means even less than half this sum would ensure the ship’s future in Liverpool.
“If there is serious UK interest, the export licence will be withheld until the end of June.”
Mr Grice added: “It would be appalling for the ship to leave Liverpool as she worked around the Irish Sea until 1961.
“This is a world-famous port, the nearest safe berth to where she was built and a perfect match with the Albert Dock architecture.
“Last year, we had 23,000 visitors and our link with the Maritime Museum brought hundreds of school children aboard.”