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!