Young talent helps Spencer Group complete permanent berth for historic lightship

Engineering specialist Spencer Group has completed work to create a new permanent home for an iconic vessel, with some of its emerging young talent playing a key role in the project.

Spencer Group has created a wet berth for the Spurn Lightship on Hull Marina, as part of a £30m cultural regeneration project in the company’s home city.

The Hull City Council-led Hull Maritime project has been launched to celebrate and preserve Hull’s rich maritime heritage.

The lightship was built in 1927 and served for 48 years as a navigation aid in the approaches of the Humber Estuary.

It has been closed since 2018 but is now set to reopen in its new home in the north-west corner of the marina, close to the Murdoch’s Connection footbridge, later in the summer.

The works by Spencer Group – which is based just a few hundred yards away – included dredging of the berthing area and the installation of five mooring piles and a steel walkway to allow access onto the lightship. The majority of the works were carried out from floating pontoons.

Spencer Group is committed to supporting young people launch and develop careers in the engineering sector and has taken on 50 apprentices from Hull’s Ron Dearing University Technical College (UTC) in just five years.

A number of former students played important roles in the Spurn Lightship wet berth works, both on and off site.

Alex Burr, Trainee Engineer at Spencer Group

Trainee Engineer Alex Burr, who completed her apprenticeship last August, was appointed Project Manager – despite being only 20-years-old.

Supported by experienced Spencer Group project managers, she was based on site overseeing the six-week programme of works, which had a team of up to 11 working on it at any one time.

Alex said:

“It was a fantastic experience and I’m so grateful to Spencer Group for putting its trust in me to take on such responsibility when I’m obviously still quite young.

“I had a lot of support around me, with experienced project managers available to offer help and advice as I needed it. It’s certainly helped build my confidence.

“It also shows how supportive Spencer Group is of future generations of engineers, helping younger people who have just started out in their careers get their foot fully in the door and build up their experience and confidence.”

Alex was joined on the project by Apprentice Engineer George Hodgson, also 20.

George Hodgson, Engineering Apprentice at Spencer Group

George, who joined Spencer Group 18 months ago, worked on the installation of the mooring piles.

He said:

“I’ve loved working for Spencer Group and its taught me so much.

“This was a brilliant project to be involved in because it’s such an important one for Hull.”

The project also provided Lee Chamberlain, Trainee QS, the opportunity to increase his commercial knowledge with his involvement from the early stages.

Lee Chamberlain, Trainee Quantity Surveyor at Spencer Group

Lee commented:

“I have gained key knowledge in Marine works, such as the restrictions and requirements when doing work on the water as well as being able to understand the potential commercial and operational challenges that may need to be faced in this environment. It was enjoyable to be able to apply myself in a sector that I’ve previously had no experience in.”

Richard Green-Morgan, Off-Site Construction Director for Spencer Group, said:

“The faith we’ve shown in our young colleagues like Alex and George is further evidence of Spencer Group’s commitment to supporting the pipeline of future engineering talent.

“We’re pleased to have completed the works that have enabled the movement of the historic Spurn Lightship, with the help of our supply chain partners Humber Work Boats and AJ Engineering.

“We hope the new berth will enhance the city’s maritime status for future generations.”

Councillor Mike Ross, leader of Hull City Council, said:

“This is a tremendous achievement and is the final piece in the jigsaw before Spurn Lightship can re-open to visitors and everyone can enjoy the attraction once again.”

Find out more about Spencer Group’s maritime expertise here.