The Gazette got on the water this morning (Thursday) to watch as the historic steamship entered the River Torridge ahead of its permanent mooring in Bideford.

The SS Freshspring has entered the River Torridge this morning (Thursday).

The heritage steamship will be moored at Bideford sometime in the next week, but is temporarily resting at Appledore.

She was towed, free of charge, by Keynvor Morlift and stopped overnight off the coast of Lynmouth.

At around 9.30am she came over the Bideford Bar and was joined in convoy by the Lundy Puffin and Appledore Lifeboat.

The Gazette joined John Puddy, of the Freshspring Society, on the Bideford pilot boat as she was brought up the Torridge to her mooring.

John told the Gazette: “It’s completely unbelievable actually, because it’s been so much work and to see her coming to her base in Bideford is absolutely amazing.

“I started this project five years ago; she was about to be scrapped and I went to see her.

“I thought, this vessel really must be saved. I set up a charity three years ago and it’s quite remarkable now we have raised the money to save her.”

The Society’s vision is to restore the steamship - which is thought to take between three and five years - and use her as an educational tool for young people.

John Puddy watches at SS Freshspring is towed up the Torridge. Picture: Sarah HowellsJohn Puddy watches at SS Freshspring is towed up the Torridge. Picture: Sarah Howells

The have so far received £155,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund to get her seaworthy.

“Bristol has the SS Great Britain, and this is Bideford’s version of that,” John added.

“Next week, then the tides are right, we will take her up the river to her berth at Landivisiau Walk.”

The SS Freshspring arriving in Appledore this morning, towed by Keynvor Morlift (Thursday). Picture: Sarah HowellsThe SS Freshspring arriving in Appledore this morning, towed by Keynvor Morlift (Thursday). Picture: Sarah Howells

Initially the SS Freshspring will be a static exhibit, but the trust’s plan is to restore her and use her for short cruise trips.

The 120ft ex-Royal Navy Auxiliary water tanker is recognised as being of national historical significance on the National Register of Historic Vessels.

She was first launched on August 15, 1946, and after trials in February 1947, she sailed to her long term base in Malta.

On board SS Freshspring.On board SS Freshspring.

She returned to the UK in 1967, and was put into reserve in 1976. In 1979 she was sold to a private owner in Bristol where she was last steamed.

She was based at Newnham on Severn.

Watch our interview with John Puddy aboard the pilot boat as the Freshspring enters the Torridge above.