Faversham boatbuilding apprenticeship scheme to open in 2013

The Purifier Building - home to the new Maritime Heritage Apprentice Training Centre

Faversham Creek Trust officials have announced a new maritime apprentice training centre is to be opened in the old Purifier Building by the side of the upper part of the Creek.

The Maritime Heritage Apprentice Training Centre will enable six student apprentices each year to gain a City & Guilds qualification up to NVQ level 3 over a period of three years. There will also be other short and part-time courses for young and mature trainees, and there may be bursaries.

The Trust says it is confident these accredited courses will lead to employment.

The craft to be worked on by the apprenticeship scheme will be traditional boats suitable for training and which can be delivered to the scheme building. New boats built by the students will be small enough to be built inside the building; access to the building will be from the water, and through a new door.

The new scheme builds on an earlier apprenticeship scheme that began with the restoration of the Thames sailing barge Cambria, which was completed this year.

‘We have had enormous support from our members and the people of Faversham, who are very keen to see the the Creek Basin used by traditional craft again,’ said master shipwright Simon Grillet. ‘We hope the Apprentice Training Centre and its need for waterborne suppliers and customers will be helpful to other Faversham Creek restoration projects.’

The organisation is also grateful for the Purifier Buildings owner, the Morrison’s supermarket chain, for enabling it to secure a long lease on the historic site in return for restoring the building and equipping it as workshops for the training centre and allied maritime trades.

A spokesman for the trust said: ‘We cannot thank Morrisons enough for their imaginative contribution to this project, which will provide training and jobs for the young people of Faversham and Kent.’

The trust is now engaged in raising funds from private and public sources for the restoration of the building, which will cost over £100,000, and take the best part of a year to complete. This will enable the first apprentices to start their courses in the New Year of 2013.

The Trust is also working with other organisations to open up the upper part of the Creek to navigation. Medway Ports will open the sluice gates, which will allow some vessels into the Basin, including small dredgers.

Anyone wishing to support the project financially or to become a Trust member is invited to write to: Faversham Creek Trust, c/o The Faversham Society, Fleur de Lis Heritage Centre, 13 Preston Street ME13 8NS. All contributions will be eligible for gift aid.

The History of Faversham Creek by Arthur Percival

Oare Creek above the bridge 1905

Postcard showing ships and boats in Oare Creek above the bridge in 1905 – for more postcards of the area belonging postcard collector Gary Vaughan, click here 

The Faversham Creek Trust has been publishing instalments of an excellent updated short history of Faversham Creek over the past few weeks – see it here:

The History of Faversham Creek by Arthur Percival
 – the background to Percival’s history and the streams that feed the Creek
The History of Faversham Creek by Arthur Percival – Part 2
 – the mystery of the sea level, membership of the Cinque Ports in the 10th century, and the market founded in the 11th century
The History of Faversham Creek by Arthur Percival – Part 3 – the story of Stonebridge Pond
The History of Faversham Creek by Arthur Percival – Part 4 – businessman Henry Hatch provides money to build a sluice in 1558 to flush silt from the Creek, and the town flourishes
The History of Faversham Creek by Arthur Percival – Part 5 – more about the growth of trade along the Creek
The History of Faversham Creek by Arthur Percival – Part 6 – the port Faversham responds to competition from the railway by straightening its entrance
The History of Faversham Creek by Arthur Percival – Part 7 – the gunpowder works and the swinging Sluice Bridge
The History of Faversham Creek by Arthur Percival – Part 8 – decay of trade, and how the swing bridge came to stop swinging

PS – In the comments below Patrick has drawn our attention to a fabulous YouTube video about the history of Faversham Creek. It includes some splendid footage of the famous sideways launch and some authentic voices…

Retired skipper Captain H Morris describes how he started in Thames sailing barges

Carr and Mason on barges2

Thames sailing barge illustration fromVanishing Craft, written by FGG Carr and illustrated by Frank Mason

Reading Hervey Benham’s book Down Tops’l yesterday eveing, I was very struck by the contents of a letter from Captain H Morris to the author. Captain Morris’s career in Thames sailing barges began when he decided to spend a holiday on a sailing barge, well away from his usual job in town.

‘I said to myself, this is the job for me, not sitting on an office stool making out invoices all day long. Of course my parents were all much against it. “All beer and bad language,” they said. However, the call was too great and I went to Faversham and got a job for two more trips as third hand and then mate. Incidentally, there was no beer and no bad language with my first skipper, and he never got under way on a Sunday if he could help it. The two other skippers at Faversham never sailed on Sundays.

‘There were then 125 sailing barges and 14 coasters working to and from that little port.’

Of course, I do understand that all 139 vessels were unlikely to arrive and try to tie up at the same moment, but it’s still very difficult to imagine where all those craft put themselves – much more of the creek must have been in use as wharves than can be seen today.

And speaking of Faversham I have three items of news.

First, the new Faversham Creek Trust will be manning a stall in the town’s market square on Saturday. Do get along to chat with Trust officials and offer your support!

Second – the Westmoreland is afloat after years of being washed by each tide. Read all about it here.

Third – Giacomo de Stefano (Man on the River), who is rowing and sailing his Iain Oughtred-designed small open boat from London to Istanbul plans to leave Faversham’s Standartd Quay on the 1st May, in order to draw attention to efforts to save it. Naturally I plan to be there if I can find out what time he’s planning to go (the tides suggest it will be some time after 11am) and will share any information I get…

PS – Here’s a photo of Giacomo and pal rowing his Iain Oughtred-designed Ness Yawl named Clodia just after 12.30 on Sunday. The last I heard was that he had wisely decided to get a tow over to the River Stour however – the idea of sailing a small open boat round the North Foreland in yesterday’s winds didn’t appeal and I can’t blame him!

Giacomo rowing Clodia off Standard Quay, Faversham Creek Giacomo rowing Clodia off Standard Quay, Faversham Creek 2