Whitstable Maritime’s aims and ambitions

Whitstable, December 2015

Whitstable Maritime is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to strengthen Whitstable’s future appeal as a visitor destination and advance the education of school children, students and adults by promoting appreciation of the town’s connections with the sea, and to develop responsible tourism that supports the local economy.

Put that way, it’s a big aim. When I met organisation director Gordon Vincent he was keen not to overplay what Whitstable Maritime specific aims, yet proposals laid before Whitstable’s harbour board some time ago seem pretty exciting to me. They include:

  • developing education programmes for all ages and abilities, including those under-achieving or disadvantaged
  • establishing a maritime discovery centre that will enable visitors to explore themes such as ‘The Impact of Man and Nature on the Coastline’ and ‘Seamanship and Navigation’
  • promote the area’s maritime heritage and the continuation of traditional craft skills, including the restoration and sailing of historic craft
  • raise awareness of the industrial archaeology and social history of the foreshore
  • help conserve marine life in the Swale with particular reference to the oyster and fishing industries

Last year, the organisation purchased a 40ft oyster yawl built in  1907, which it has restored and registered with National Historic Vessels (UK).

I think we should wish them well – very well indeed. The organisation’s website could do with some development and will no doubt include a lot more information in future, but see it here.

Arthur Beale’s talk: the history of Whitstable block and yacht fittings maker Barton Marine

RSJ Barton Ltd of Whitstable

The history of East Coast block makers Barton Marine of Whitstable is the subject of next month’s talk at Arthur Beale Yacht Chandlers in Shaftsbury Avenue, London, from 6:45pm on Thursday the 5th March 2015.

The talk is to be presented by  Barton Marine sales manager Christian Brewer.

Barton Marine is well known for making blocks. The company was established as RSJ Barton in 1948 by Whitstable shipwright and boat builder Ron Barton, who was was one of the first to use the fabric-based laminated plastic known as Tufnol, and also one of the first to use stainless steel to make blocks for yachting that were much lighter and stronger than previously achievable.

In the 1960s the introduction of glass reinforced plastic boats brought sailing to a larger audience, and demand for Barton’s lightweight and cost effective products continued to grow.

Ron realised that Tufnol was labour-intensive and therefore costly – so set about re-designing the entire Barton product range to become the first marine company to use a new plastic injection moulding process using revolutionary fibre glass-reinforced plastic materials.

It should prove to be a fascinating tale, and there are rumours that there may be some interesting East Coast marine engineers in the audience.

Book a place by emailing: talks@arthurbeale.co.uk

The entry fee is £5.00 – but you’ll get their money back if you make a shop purchase to the value of £15.00 or more. Attendees will also get a special discount voucher to use when purchasing Barton Products from Arthur Beale’s.


Simon Papendick starts Anderson, Rigden and Perkins register

Gadfly II on the water pic 2

Professional Essex boat builder, restorer, travelling boat maintenance man and enthusiastic weblogger Simon Papendick (read his stuff here) is setting up a register of vessels built by the Whitstable firm of Anderson, Rigden and Perkins, and is calling for owners to get in touch.

Contact Simon at jstarboatservices1@gmail.com .

The boat photographed above is Simon’s Anderson, Rigden and Perkins-built Gadfly II before its current refit.

Part of the the aim is to demonstrate the range of yachts that Anderson, Rigden and Perkins built, and to provide a forum for yacht owners to get in touch with each other, piece together bits of history, help each other with technical issues and so on.

The company is the subject of a book by Faversham boat builder Alan Staley, but I gather there are gaps in the history because many of the records were burnt in a fire at the boatyard, while other material was destroyed after a local library was unable to provide a home for them.

Looking around the World Wide Web, I notice that there’s this article from The Whitstable Times that neatly summarises the Anderson, Rigden and Perkins’ history – which includes motor boats, vessels for the Admiralty and a lot of repair work during World War II. However, it likely dates from before the period of its success with the well known fibreglass Anderson 22 lifting keel sailing cruiser and racer.