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Second phase of project to recreate medieval boats has started in Sandwich

The second phase of a project to recreate medieval boats, which it is hoped will bring more tourists to Sandwich, has begun.

A new wooden structure was assembled by North Oak Timbers of Shepherdswell, on the Quay, on Thursday and Friday.

This will be used for a boat-building workshop and is the result of three years of hard work and dedication by a not-for-profit trust, led by Bob Martin and Bob Hill.

The frame of a building to store a medieval ship being erected.
The frame of a building to store a medieval ship being erected.

It is investing £300,000 of private money to set up the workshop and boost young people’s interest in the ancient craft of ship-building.

Mr Martin, trustee of Sandwich Historical Boatyard Trust, said: “The frame of the structure is up. The rest of it, such as roofing and cladding, will be done before Easter.”

The frame measures 12m by 6m by 6m. Mr Martin added: “There is also an extension which is 3m by 3m. It is all made from green oak and there is not a single nail or screw in the building. It is all dowelled together.

Work has started to build the ship
Work has started to build the ship

“It’s not been easy but we’ve got there and we’re extremely delighted. You could have parked one of the boats in our smiles.”

This is the second phase of the project. The first phase was to secure Fishergate, opposite the Quay, as their head office.

The third phase, still subject to planning permission, will be a museum for artefacts and visitor centre with medieval re-enactments and boats on display.

The ship's frame
The ship's frame

The trust also wants to offer two young apprentices the chance to gain experience of traditional boat building.

Mr Martin said: “We’re hoping all three phases will be complete a year from now. We cannot build in the summer because of the tourist trade but we’re more than happy to accommodate Sandwich with that, because that’s what we want to be a part of.”

The boat-building workshop will be launched and open to the public on June 11 and 12 as part of Le Weekend in Sandwich.

It is being built at the The Quay, Sandwich
It is being built at the The Quay, Sandwich

A troupe of knights from Boulogne and an English group from Canterbury will take over the Quayside green.

There will be music from Mr Martin’s band Rough Musicke as well as dancers, archery and traders selling goods.

The trust are awaiting the outcome of a Heritage Lottery bid for the third phase and are hoping for a planning decision on it by late April.

  • Apprentices or volunteers who would like to get involved can write to the Fishergate, The Quay, Sandwich, CT13 9EN
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