Gates open 11am to 4pm on both Saturday and Sunday.
There will be the usual pop-up cafe and a visiting historic vessel mooring up at the visitor berth for people to have a close up look at.
After a considerable absence from Hermitage (last visit was in 2015 ) VIC96 is steaming (literally firing up the coal burning steam engine) to Hermitage for the Open Days from her home berth in Chatham Historic Dock.
The VIC96 is an ex Admiralty Victualling Inshore Craft, built in 1945 by Dunston of Thorne in South Yorkshire. Length 85 ft overall, 20′ beam, working draught approx 7ft 6in, gross tonnage 145. They were designed to take supplies out to naval ships lying at anchor. These type of vessels were built specifically for the navy for service in WWII, based on the Clyde Puffer type and with coal fired steam powered propulsion to avoid use of scarce oil resources. Use of simple machinery and simplicity of construction enabled a range of modest shipyards to produce VICs during the War making them quick and economic. Most plates have curvature in only one direction and the hull has straight rather than curved frames, there being an angled bilge. They could also run on indigenous coal rather than scarce imported oil. VIC 96 has a 14ft high 7ft diameter coal fired Cochran boiler producing steam at 120 psi for a large Crabtree compound engine. The cargo hold is 40ft 3in long. Originally she had an armoured wheelhouse.
VIC 96 served at Sheerness Dockyard from 1946 to 1959 and then at Chatham Dockyard where she was known as C668 until August 1972. Sold out of the Navy, laid up in docks in the East End of London, sold to the steam ship Museum at Maryport and then sold again to Allerdale District Council, like so many redundant ships, VIC 96 suffered from broken and stolen fixtures and general deterioration. She even flooded and sank at her moorings and had to be pumped out and raised.