Building and Sailing Square Rigged Sailing Ships in London – Funding Appeal

Below is a letter from a registered charity, which is seeking TEP members’ help to build and sail three 17th century square rigged sailing ships in order to preserve traditional sailors’ skills and to help people rediscover our maritime history.


Dear TEP Member,                                                                                                                           

The Captain Kidd Pirate Ship Experience is a registered UK charity that aims to build and sail three 17th century square rigged sailing ships based on the Adventure Galley, the original ship of pirate William Kidd. They will be built in or near Deptford. Two will then be moored at Greenwich and will travel daily on the Thames, with members of the public participating in the sailing, rigging and rowing. The third ship will retrace Kidd’s voyages around the world. 


Our aims:

  • To save and teach the fast-fading skills of the traditional sailor.
  • To assist young people, including funding apprentices to help build and Sea Cadets to sail the ships.
  • To promote London and the Thames – our aim is for the building of the ships to become a sight in itself, while the fully functioning ships will become a major attraction. The Golden Hinde, the Cutty Sark and 1.5 million visitors to the 2017 Greenwich Tall Ships weekend all prove that the potential appeal is enormous.
  • To help the public to rediscover our maritime history, and London’s role within it.
  • To promote inclusivity – the Golden Age of Piracy, and the government’s response to it, led to a forerunner of today’s multicultural society. Via education and accessible interactive participation, we aim to celebrate our heritage and reduce community isolation.


How TEP members can help

To get started, we need your financial support. So far, everything we have done has been personally funded by me, Keith Lees-Smeaton, from my limited means. That includes getting the approval of the Lord Mayor of London, the Mayor of London (Sadiq Khan), Visit Greenwich Ltd, the Marine Safety Agency and the Port of London Authority, among others.


I’ve also been putting together a team of professionals who can help make this a reality. The team includes Pat Fitzsimons, Director of the Thames Estuary Partnership. 


I have a long association with the Royal Navy, the Sea Cadets and tall ships. I also helped sail the Golden Hinde around the world in the years before she arrived on London’s Southbank. With this appeal, I’m looking to raise £50,000 seed money to take us to the next stage of raising the estimated £16m necessary to build and equip the ships.


How to donate

Please make your donation by BACS transfer to: Metro Bank, Sort code 23-05-80, a/c no. 23719864, a/c name: Captain Kidd’s Ship Adventure Galley. Depending on what you give, we can offer you recognition and rewards in return. Donations can also be made via PayPal. For more details about donating, click here.


If you could make even a small donation, it will bring us that much closer to realizing an amazing, lasting project that will have a big social and cultural impact on London, and bring maritime history, square rig sailing and associated traditional crafts to life. Thank you!



Keith Lees-Smeaton, Lt (SCC), RNR

Founder, The Captain Kidd Pirate Ship Experience


External Sources

Pirate Ship Experience website