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:
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Prepare to be awed! Lulworth is the largest gaff cutter afloat today, with a length of 46.30m (152ft) and a mast as high as a 17-floor apartment block. She is also widely considered to be breathtakingly beautiful – she was described by the great maritime photographer Franco Pace as ‘the last true gem’.
Perhaps she is above all else a magnificent piece of nautical history, as the sole survivor of the Big Class racing yachts from the 1920s, which included Lulworth, the Prince of Wales’ yacht Britannia, Westward, White Heather II and Shamrock.
The Big Class races were spectacular to watch: the boats had deep keels, long overhanging booms and powerful rigs. Around 45 races were organised in the regatta season from late May to early September, and the highlight came in early August when the fleet headed to the Solent for Cowes Week. Wherever they were held around the British Isles, however, Big Class events attracted huge crowds.
Seventy years after her last Big Class race, she was taken to Italy from a mud berth on the River Hamble and brought back to life during five years of restoration aimed at returning the yacht as far as possible to her original condition, based on a set of drawings dating from 1926.
For more on Lulworth and her restoration:
Large posters, framed photos and calendars of Lulworth and other classics from the early 20th century:
The painting of Lulworth battling it out with Britannia below is by marine artist Roger Davies. Roger sells prints of his splendid paintings from his site: