A VIKING longship will have a new mast fitted on Friday after the original was destroyed during the ship's maiden voyage.

The Draken Harald - the largest Norse/Viking longship constructed in modern times - had an eventful journey to Wirral on its way from Norway after losing its 70ft mast in severe conditions off the Shetland Isle.

Despite doubts over its arrival, the crippled ship managed to make its way to its destination at Wallasey Docks last Thursday, using a motor as back-up power in the absence of the sail.

The tree from which the new mast is being constructed - a Douglas Fir - arrived last Thursday and Norwegian boatbuilders Arild Nilsen and Ola Fjelltun have been workng with Cammell Laird and other local shipwrights in getting the new mast ready.

Once the mast is up – and reinforced – it will be rigged and the impressive 2800 sq.ft. silk sail can be put on again.    

Steve Harding, Wirral Viking expert, said: “We are also re-creating a bit of history. During the Viking Age, the Vikings were in control of the Irish Sea for long periods and longships would have been in need of repair.  

"Wallasey Docks are part of what use to be the old Wallasey Pool – a sheltered inlet from the Mersey, so it is a distinct possibility that 1000 years ago Viking ships were also here receiving similar attention.  We are all looking forward to seeing the longship again in its original beautiful state”

Wirral’s ‘Viking Navy’ of trained volunteer oarspeople will be rowing the vessel around the Docks in the afternoon of Sunday, July 27 and the evening of Wednesday, July 30.  

Two Viking heritage walks will also take place on Monday, July 28 and Tuesday, July 29.

Jim Bibby, from Liverpool Victoria Rowing Club, said: “The longship leaves on Sunday, August 3 and will move down towards the Tranmere Oil Terminal then turn to cross over to the Liverpool side of the river and stop in front of the International Cruise Terminal. 

"The opportunity to take some great photographs from the Wallasey side of the river when the ship is in front of the Three Graces should not be missed."

A programme of public visits has been arranged and can be accessed from LVRC’s web site at lvrc.co.uk

Watch a video of the Draken Harald Viking Ship arriving in the River Mersey, filmed by Dave Hughes, below.