Hestercombe Gardens get a new Edwardian-style punt

Lyme Regis boatbuilders The Beautiful Boat Company have constructed a punt for the Hestercombe Gardens Trust, based on old photographs from 1904 of the boat being used on the garden’s Pear Pond. The launch was a few days ago, and I’d guess the folks involved had some fun recreating the most striking of the old photos. See old black and white and new colour photos in the gallery above.

I’m quite sure the The Beautiful Boat Company would be very happy to work to more commissions based on old photographs!

Hestercombe combines three gardens covering three centuries of garden history and design, including a Edwardian formal garden designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and planted by Gertrude Jekyll between 1904-1908, a Victorian shrubbery and terrace originally laid out by the 1st Viscount Portman between 1873-77, and an 18th century landscape garden designed by Coplestone Warre Bampfylde between 1750 and 1791.

The punt project began when Hestercombe Gardens Trust chief executive Philip White found six photographs of a punt from about 1904. The photos show a slightly unusual punt shorter and deeper than most estate or lake punts, and finely built in the Thames style.

The discover sparked an ambition to see a punt back on Pear Pond again; Philip suspects the original was sold at an estate sale in 1951.

Evidence from a boat house in the grounds suggested the punt was up to about 18 feet. A chance meeting between Philip and Simon Olszowski of The Beautiful Boat Company and graduate of the Lyme Regis’ Boat Building Academy, led to the punt commission.

It is built from a mix of timbers including iroko and sapele, and also teak reclaimed from East Reach Hospital in Taunton, where the Portman ward was sponsored by Hestercombe’s last private owners, and is named Constance after the lady of the house at the time it was built.

Punt built in the Faversham Creek Trust building launched

The folks of Faversham held a launching ceremony for a 14-foot punt named Kingfisher on the town’s Stonebridge pond on Sunday.

The punt was built by local long-term unemployed people under the direction of local boatbuilder Alan Thorne under a Department of Work and Pensions-funded educational scheme, and is to be used by a local organisation, the Friends of Westbrook and Stonebridge Pond for clearing ancient waterways between the pond and the tidal head of Faversham Creek.

Alan’s workshop is in the Faversham Creek Trust’s building, which is housed in an old gasworks by the head of the Creek.

The waterways are remnants of an old gunpowder works that used leather-bound boats to transport gunpowder (rather than iron-bound wheeled carts) in order to avoid striking sparks.

The boatbuilding project was managed by The Creek Learning Project in partnership with the Brents Community Association, and aims to help local unemployed people gain the confidence to get into work or volunteering.

Friends of Westbrook and Stonebridge Pond chair Fern Alder (wearing a yellow jacket in the photos above) said ‘I would like to say a big thank you, on behalf of the whole group, for the truly beautiful and very useful punt that has been made for us.’

My thanks go to the FCT’s Griselda Mussett for the photos.

Alan Thorne can help with boatbuilding projects – constructing to plans in very tidy stitch-and-glue or more traditional techniques. Contact him by email at ajthorne3@hotmail.com or phone 07865 091155.