BBA student to build replica of Dorset crab and lobster fishing boat Witch of Worbarrow

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Witch of Worbarrow Dorset crab and lobster fishing boat

Witch of Worbarrow

A student at the Boat Building Academy is appealing for information and old photos relating to the Witch of Worbarrow, built in Weymouth in around 1902.

Student Ian Baird is building a replica of the rare Dorset crab and lobster fishing boat as part of his 38-week boat building training.

Now in the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, the original boat was rowed from Weymouth to Worbarrow Bay by Jack and Tom Miller, where it worked the crab and lobster grounds for many years, before becoming a gaff-rigged pleasure boat. In 1979 she was bequeathed to the National Maritime Museum by her late owner, Philip Draper of Arne, near Wareham. She is of historical interest because she is believed to be the only boat of her type still surviving.

Ian says that he wanted to build something that was unusual and local to his home county of Dorset. Recreating Witch of Worbarrow offers just that opportunity, and he wants to know much more about her history and the people who worked in her.

‘Apart from her life in Weymouth Bay and Poole Harbour we also know that she spent some time in Southampton Water or the Solent as there are old pictures of her close to the bows of the Queen Mary at Southampton,’ he says.

The project has attracted great interest from the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, which is planning to put the new boat on display alongside the original. The museum’s interest is that the original Witch is far too old to put on the water: ‘We don’t really know how she would have behaved on the water,’ says curator of boats Andy Wyke. ‘Ian’s reconstruction of the boat, which will follow as closely as possible to the original, will help us to learn a great deal about this historic fishing boat.’