Customs smacks, the precursors of revenue cutters, have been used in Britain since the 15th century. Later known as revenue cutters, following the creation of the Board of Customs in 1671, they prevented, as they do now, smuggling at sea. The trust would like the cutter, once restored, to be on public exhibition in Portsmouth dockyard alongside the Mary Rose.
The trust has spent the last year moving the boat, with voluntary help from customs officers, to a covered slipway at Portchester Shipyard, in Portsmouth Harbour. Here, the boat has had its woodwork removed and catalogued in preparation for a restoration survey which has been completed by a shipbuilding firm: the estimated figure of pounds 100,000 is based on a cost-only basis. Restoration work must begin in early April - otherwise the shipbuilders will be forced to withdraw their offer. The trust has been promised a 50 per cent grant by the National Heritage Memorial Fund but has only raised half of the amount necessary to match this figure.
For further information, contact: The Vigilant Trust, Custom House, Lower Thames Street, London EC3R 6EE, telephone 071-283 5353.