National Trust replaces famous Lindisfarne Castle boatsheds

Upturned boatsheds480

Photo by Catherine Atkinson

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We must now be a recognised part of the meeja – we’ve received another interesting press release today announcing that the Lindisfarne boatsheds have been replaced. It’s great also to be able to celebrate some more great sheds – it’s been too long since the our last post on this important topic. Perhaps we should make sheds a category of their own?

I remember the original up-turned boatsheds from the one time I visited Lindisfarne in the 1970s, when I was a student in the area. They remind me very much of Halfpenny Cottage at Hastings, which is similarly made from an upturned half-boat.

Anyway, here’s the information the way the National Trust tells it:

Official opening of restored boatsheds at Lindisfarne Castle

The iconic upturned boats that replace those tragically destroyed by fire at Lindisfarne Castle officially open to the public.

The boats that sit below the castle are familiar landmarks on Holy Island. Two replacements for those tragically gutted by fire at the Castle and a restored survivor, part of a nineteenth century herring keelboat, will be opened by Holy Island resident Elfreda Elford. Elfreda is in her 90’s and has been visiting the Castle for over eight decades.

The restored boat sheds will provide interpretation for visitors about the history of the boats and herring fishing on Holy Island. Historian and writer Katrina Porteous has undertaken research on the herring fishing tradition on Holy Island and has written text for a panel on site and a leaflet.

Since the two boat sheds were destroyed in October 2005, the National Trust has been working hard with Coastal Marine from Eyemouth to source suitable replacements and carry out essential repair work to give the old boat further life. The replacement boat was found in a Leith Dockyard by Jim Scott, manager of Coastal Marine, who arranged for the boat to be cut in two and delivered to the castle.

The project has been advised by Dr Robert Prescott of the University of St Andrew’s who oversaw the recording of the old boat by Headland Archaeology, and established the significance of the surviving boat on the site which is a rare example of its age and type.

Funding from two sources made the whole project possible – a grant from the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) small grants scheme and the Local Heritage Initiative funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

Dr Keith Bartlett of the Heritage Lottery Fund said:

“The upturned boats are a fascinating and quirky feature of Holy Island’s historical heritage which will now be preserved for future generations. Whilst the people of Holy Island are learning about the contribution of the upturned boats to the community, essential boat building skills will be being preserved ensuring that these traditional methods are passed on and safeguarded for the future.”

The boat sheds at the castle first appeared when Edwin Lutyens restored the castle for Edward Hudson at the turn of the last century.

The use of redundant boats as sheds is an East Coast tradition (there are a number of others at the harbour on Holy Island). The remaining original keelboat shed at Lindisfarne Castle is the stern half of a 19th century herring drifter.

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