A faithfully created replica of one of the last Thames sailing barges will soon take to the seas for the first time.

Sea-Change Sailing Trust’s Blue Mermaid is an exact replica of the 1930 original, which was lost at sea during the Second World War.

The £700,000 Maldon-based project has been paid for through a collection of grants, including landfill operator Enovert Community Trust, which runs a plant near Colchester.

Blue Mermaid’s interior will be expertly kitted out thanks to a donation £30,000 from Enovert.

Angela Haymonds, secretary of Enovert Community Trust, said: “The trustees were delighted to support this innovative project which will make a real difference to so many vulnerable young people, who will be able to benefit from an alternative approach to learning in a healthy, safe and challenging environment.”

The Sea-Change Sailing Trust provides action-based learning, environmental education and seamanship training to disadvantaged youngsters.

The not-for-profit Maldon-based trust works with vulnerable young people based in Essex and further afield.

Sea trials with Blue Mermaid will begin this spring and the boat will allow the trust to run extra courses and traineeships.

Trust administrator Don Ramsey said: “Blue Mermaid will enable so many more youngsters to benefit from courses that offer them the option to embark on a maritime career.

“Our ongoing support and mentoring programme and the small size of our groups enables us to offer our young people the best possible chance of transferring positive personal development into life beyond the project.

“As well as our existing portfolio of programmes, our new barge will provide residential programmes through our Youth Sailing Scheme.

“Outcomes include improving key skills, self-belief and developing the ability to work as team players.

“Blue Mermaid will also give us the opportunity to deliver our new Seamanship Scholarship, a unique range of programmes for young people offering a training progression path to their chosen maritime career.”

Blue Mermaid is based at Downs Road Boatyard, Maldon. Visit seachangesailingtrust.org.uk for more details.