The Sanu was one of 50 supply vessels built in 1942 for the Admiralty. In 2001, the ship set sail along the North Cornwall coast, where it was bound for dry dock near Bristol for a long overdue restoration. Sadly, during the journey the Sanu suffered engine failure and her owners were forced to take shelter in the Gannel estuary near Newquay.
A lack of engine power and high spring tides caused the Sanu to wash up on the estuary where she remained until 2012. There were many attempts to restore the ship, but with such bad damage, it proved impossible.
During this time, the National Trust went through legal proceedings to establish possession of the Sanu and remove her from the shore. However, in Spring 2013, the Trust was approached by a TV production company working with Kevin McCloud that was looking for old ship timbers for a second series of Channel 4’s ‘Kevin McCloud’s Man Made Home’.
The premise was that the show would use the timbers from the ship for their design. While it would mean that the vessel wouldn’t sail again, the fact that the timber could be reused appealed to the North Cornwall team.
In early June, working between the tides, McCloud’s team carefully removed the timbers they wanted. Kevin McCloud picked and dismantled much of the wood himself, choosing the pieces which would best fit with his emerging design.
Ian Kemp, General Manager for the National Trust in North Cornwall, said: “The sight of Kevin McCloud perched on a ladder founded on soft mud beneath several feet of sea water, wielding power tools and wrecking bars was enough to test any risk assessment! But thankfully, the work passed without incident.
“The Sanu had a fascinating life. As well as being part of the Admiralty, she had a spell as a fishing vessel and was also owned by a Cornish author Denys Val Baker for several years, featuring in at least two of his books. In many ways it seems sad that after such a colourful life she has to be broken, but at least some parts of the boat will now live on.
“I hope that the by featuring in the television show it will encourage more recycling and reuse of things that might otherwise end up as landfill.”
The remains of the vessel will be removed next month.
‘Kevin McCloud’s Man Made Home’ will be broadcast on Channel 4 at 8pm on Sunday 22 September.