Faversham Creek Trust launched to revitalise historic waterway

Faversham Creek Trust leaflet

The Faversham Creek Trust launched yesterday will ‘work with both local and national government to regenerate shipbuilding and marine activity, creating a vibrant, revitalised working creek and skilled jobs for local people’.

That sounds like good news to me – if the council and landowners allow the new trust to achieve its aims.

A press release issued by the trust puts it this way:

‘Dedicated to protecting and promoting Faversham’s centuries-old maritime industry, the trust intends to reverse the recent decline in the creek’s fortunes for the benefit of the whole town, which is an ancient Cinque Port 10 miles west of Canterbury.

‘The trust has invited creekside land owners and operators to participate, and has produced a colour brochure detailing the creek’s history and its importance to the town. It sets out plans for a successful, sustainable future for this tidal link to the Thames Estuary, guaranteeing real employment and training opportunities.

‘The trust is asking the local authority, Swale Borough Council, to commit to protecting Faversham’s heritage and has plans in place to raise funds once the future of significant creekside sites can be secured.

‘The launch of the Trust comes at a time of widespread public concern for the creek’s future: in particular, the immediate threat to traditional boatbuilding jobs at Standard Quay. Around 1,000 people have already signed an e-petition to the council, calling for the quay, a national centre for sailing barge repair on the site of the famous Goldfinch shipyard, to be protected from inappropriate development.

‘Faversham is practically the last stronghold of the world-renowned Thames sailing barge. Safeguarding one of the town’s last surviving pockets of creekside maritime industry is an urgent priority for the new trust. But its scope and ambition extend much further.’

Trust spokesman David Gwyn Jones said that current proposals to allow the historic listed buildings on Standard Quay to be used for restaurants and shops would deny them to the maritime users and barge repairers on the waterfront.
‘We are not opposed to house building or business development,’ he said, ‘but new housing has already encroached upon much of the creek. Other sites are suitable for development which do not threaten the marine heritage of Faversham and its people’s jobs.

The trust’s plans include include:

  • creating more than 50 new jobs
  • bringing the swing bridge and creek basin back into proper use and resolving the present silting problems
  • new facilities, including slipways, dry docks, a dinghy building school, a blacksmith’s forge, a marine engineering workshop, and a museum
  • creek festivals and sailing events

Faversham’s a great place, but just think what it could be if this new trust gets it’s way!

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12 thoughts on “Faversham Creek Trust launched to revitalise historic waterway”

  1. Went sailing from Faversham last September with Brian off the barge 'Lady of the Lea'………..he and his team have been doing fantastic things down there and if they get the plug pulled on their set up because of some typical property developer who has no understanding of the place, or a council that wont intervene, then it's a sad day for the British maritime past. There are so few places left now. I did write an article about this for Classic Boat and hopefully they will publish it soon……………….

  2. Reading the brochure (see link in Gavin's text, above) I was inspired.

    I think the restoration of the Ordnance Wharf and basin with its sluice and swing bridge would be a brilliant stroke. The ability to flush the creek would benefit many users, and the additional berths created would be very useful for traditional vessels, especially in the event that Standard Quay were to be 'lost'.

    I'll be following the campaign with interest.

    Steve

  3. Colin Frake has been forced to leave as will the rest of the boatbuilding fraternity soon, because they have been given notice to quit in June, by the landlord.

    See Standardquay.com for the full story.

    Colin took the opportunity to protect his business and everyone wishes him well. Maybe one day there will be an opportunity for him to return to the town where he has spent most of his working life.

  4. Hi Gavin, hope the new trust revitalises the area and keeps the developers at bay. There was a yacht at the Hobart WB show whose home port is Faversham. Granuaile, a 1905 build that has resumed it's original name. I'll see if someone got a pic of her, I seem to have missed it myself.

    Jeff

  5. Well done everyone involved in setting up this Trust and I will do all I can to broadcast events through the East Coast Pilot website.

    The idea of extending the campaign to include the upper basin and the swing bridge is great.

    Can I put in a small plea for the needs of visiting 'modern' sailors to be included in discussions? There are many ordinary, quiet, nice folk who cruise their very ordinary yachts on the East Coast and Faversham is currently a very challenging place to visit, with its lack of depth and very sparse facilities. I am absolutely not asking for anything remotely resembling a fancy 'marina', but think of places like Heybridge Basin where old and new boats are welcomed and co-exist in a traditional environment.

    Encouraging cruising boats to visit the town would bring added prosperity and trade for local businesses. The Dutch would love coming here, for instance.

  6. @Jeff Thanks. Granuaille sounds familiar – I'm scratching my head to try to remember where I know the name from. Perhaps I've seen her at some point.

    Did you get some photos of Hobart I can publish please?

    @Dick Quite right Dick. Good point.

  7. Dick,

    I totally agree with your plea that the Trust should not get too narrowly focussed on the heritage. The whole point is that the Dutch would not have allowed such an asset to have been squandered for so long, and would have exploited it for the whole town and the widest range of users, as commercial use declined. [Lower Halstow Dock again eh Dick]

    The creek has been exploited commercially for centuries but in recent years there has been no cooperative consideration as to how to prevent the decline, resulting in some terrible exclusive development. Having made no provision for Creek activity, they have been left staring at acres of Mud.

    Credit must be given to the Friends of Faversham Creek and Swale Borough Council through the Faversham Creek Consortium, for stopping further inappropriate development, fostering cooperation, and developing an Area Action Plan. However, now is the time for an independent not-for-profit body to promote the better use of the Creek itself, and the creekside.

    There are only a few places in the country where you can enjoy that mix of old and new, and this could be one of them; there are plenty of wooden sticks at the moment, including the barges, and alongside the old town, they potentially make it a very attractive place to visit. Unfortunately at the moment, there is little to connect the town to the creek.

    What the Tidiers do not understand is that it is that untidy environment of old craft and their activities that attracts the visitors, by boat or on foot.

    Oh that we had a lock, to emulate Heybridge … wait a moment … we do ………

  8. Colin Frake is still operating from his Standard Quay premises.

    I had a very interesting converstaion with Colin yesterday, and he told me that he will be there until his lease ends in June, by which time he will have made other arrangements and these will be announced in due course, so watch his website.

    He is in the middle of an an interesting contract for a rebuilt Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter, and there is no thruth in a rumour that he is retiring.

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