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2013-12-02T15:00:00 Updated 2015-02-18T23:25:20

The Thames Ironworks lives on!

West Ham United's original incarnation, the Thames Ironworks, is to be given a new lease of life, with Saturday's long-awaited launch of the Thames Ironworks Heritage Trust.

The Trust, chaired by lifelong Hammers supporter Gavin Redknap, is seeking to revive the shipbuilding and wider manufacturing heritage of east London.

The charity will do so primarily through the restoration of Thames Ironworks-made lifeboats close to the place where they were originally built over 100 years ago, creating employment and new skills for apprentices in the process.

Saturday's launch coincides with the return of the first of its historic lifeboats to east London, which will be received at a reception at the Trust's new temporary home at Cody Dock, Canning Town.

Thames Ironworks Heritage Trust
The first of the new fleet arrives at Cody Dock

Crucially, the lifeboats will subsequently be put to work in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and surrounding east London waterways, conducting tours of the area.

With West Ham set to move into the Olympic Stadium in 2016, the Ironworks' renewed presence in the vicinity is the most pertinent of links to the Club's illustrious origins.

Tours will focus on the area's industrial heritage, bringing an educational aspect to the newly-restored waterways, as well as offering further opportunities for employment and training to young people.

Paying tribute to the Club's involvement, Redknap said: "The Trust is hugely appreciative of the efforts of West Ham United, once known as Thames Ironworks FC, to help bring visibility to our campaign among fans and the general public."

Elsewhere, Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, described the Trust's project as "an intriguing and valuable endeavour to support London's unique shipbuilding heritage." He added: "I also support the idea of creating new career opportunities for young people in east London to develop these valuable and lost skills."

The Thames Ironworks Heritage Trust has also received support from Stephen Timms and Lyn Brown, MPs for East Ham and West Ham respectively, while Jim Fitzpatrick, MP for Poplar and Limehouse, said: "We should treasure the integral role the Ironworks played in our seafaring history for future generations, which is why I'm backing the campaign to bring the historic Ironworks back to the East End."

To find out more, you can visit www.tiht.org.uk, www.facebook.com/tihtuk and www.twitter.com/tihtuk, or donate at www.mydonate.bt.com/charities/tihtuk 

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