Newson’s boatyard stands by Oulton Broad in Lowestoft, Suffolk – that is, right on the East Coast of England and at the gateway to the Norfolk Broads.
Restoration is only one part of the company’s business, for it is also a boatbuilder in wood, steel and fibreglass, makes masts, and undertakes surveys and engine installations. Nevertheless, Newson’s has surely done some terrific boat and yacht restoration projects of various sizes, and the company has kindly promised to let us publish some of their photos over time.
Just for a start, though take a look at the William & Kate Johnston (pictured below), and then take a look around for a taste of what’s to come from this yard:
This is where it is:
Launched in 1923, William & Kate Johnston was designed as a prototype lifeboat by James R. Barnett, Consulting Naval Architect to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, and at the time of her launch she was the largest lifeboat in the world at 60ft in length. She was built with a double diagonal teak hull by J. Samuel White and Co at Cowes. For more on her:
If you would like to see your yard, project or boat listed here, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org . There’s no charge, and no catch.
Fans of Maurice Griffiths wil be pleased and interested to hear that the original Lone Gull II built in 1961 by Harry Feltham for the legendary designer, writer and magazine editor for his own use is to be restored by A&R Way Boatbuilding of Argyll.
The plan is to keep her as original as possible: the interior is very much as she was built but the deck and deck beams need to be replaced. When finished, she will be used for some family trips around the West Coast and islands before perhaps selling.
For more on Lone Gull II and A&R Way Boatbuilding see this link http://www.aandrwayboatbuilding.co.uk/page/for_sale_lone_gull_ii . While you’re there, do follow the link to Vindilis – another boat built for a legendary designer, this time metacentric shelf theory enthusiast Harrison Butler.
For more on Griffiths, visit the Eventide Owners Group website at http://www.eventides.org.uk and take a peek at this obituary published by The Independent newspaper. Also, Googling for Maurice Griffiths will usually reveal a shed-load of his boats for sale, as some of them were built in large numbers in the UK and beyond.
“The number of boating men who find pleasure merely in sailing a boat is small compared with those who delight not only in handling, but as well in planning, building, improving or ‘tinkering’ generally on their pet craft, and undoubtedly the latter derive the greater amount of pleasure from the sport. They not only feel a pride in the result of their work, but their pleasure goes on, independent of the seasons. No sooner do cold and ice interfere with sport afloat than the craft is hauled up, dismantled, and for the next half year becomes a source of unlimited pleasure to her owner – and a nuisance to his family and friends. We know one eminent canoeist who keeps a fine canoe in his cellar and feeds her on varnish and brass screws for fifty weeks of every year.”
So wrote WP Stephens in the preface to his classic 1889 manual Canoe and Boatbuilding for Amateurs. It was written at a time when the word ‘amateur’ meant something slightly different to what it says to us today, but we probably all recognise the typical boat owner’s compulsion to change and adapt. Go down to anywhere boats are moored on a Saturday morning, and whatever the tide you’ll probably find half of the craft have a happy tinkerer mooching around on board, armed with nuts and bolts, some odd fittings and a tin of varnish. What could be better, apart from actually sailing?
WP Stephens’ book is a fascinating way into the world of sailing canoes in particular, and will make your next trip to a maritime museum showing old canoes much more worthwhile. Perhaps its value lies in the way canoe designers of the time shared their designs in a way that is much less frequent now – the designs laid out in WP Stephens’ book are complete with their offsets and can be built straight off the page.
So I’d encourage you to find any excuse you can to spend an idle hour with an online book that will take you, for free, back to an earlier time: