Of course the proposal to build the Lenox is not without precedent, and perhaps one of the most spectacular is the Hermione Project at Rochefort. This project is claimed by the local mayor to have turned around the fortunes of this small town near the west coast of France, raising local pride, and creating aspirations and jobs. In the summer of 2011, the Hermione Project received its 3 millionth visitor and currently opens its doors to 250,000 tourists each year.

The plan to build a replica of the Hermione started with a small group of dedicated enthusiasts seventeen years ago. With sound and steady management and a great deal of creativity they persuaded government, regional and town councils and the public that nothing was impossible and that the benefits can be enormous. The dock was excavated, temporary buildings sourced, funding secured, shares sold, and challenge after challenge overcome.

The National Maritime Museum in London provided the drawings used to build her, as the Royal Navy had captured her sister-ship and meticulously detailed its construction. The building programme was tailored to provide the maximum in training opportunities, and skilled specialists were drawn from across Europe. In the spring of 2012 she will be floated out of the dry-dock and masted and rigged. The following year the plan is that she will retrace the voyage of the original Hermione, when LaFayette used her to harass the English Navy’s blockade of the American colonists.