Young people restore fishing boats for new educational project
Three former fishing boats are being restored by a team of young people in Hastings to become part of a new educational project.
Based at The Stade, the shingle beach, famously used for fishing vessels, the project gives young people aged 18 -24 years the opportunity to learn from professional boat builders and fisherman. Learning skills in carpentry, construction, boat-building and conservation, the project also enhances volunteers’ and trainees’ motivation and confidence while helping increase their chances for employability.
The decommissioned clinker-built fishing boats, known affectionately as ‘Mandy-Ann’, ‘Young Flying Fish’ and ‘Sandra’ served their time at sea, working since the 1950s and will now enjoy their retirement, refurbished as an educational attraction.
The boats will teach younger generations about fishing heritage, boat building and local heritage.
Volunteer Gary Leech aged 23 from Hastings said of his experience; “I enjoy working at the boat yard because it is easy going and fun, there is plenty of fresh air and serenity that comes with most outside work, working on restoring a boat is rewarding as you are working to restore your towns proud heritage for future generations.”
Mandy Ann, official name RX327 is set to be completed in the next few weeks after a final coat of varnish from volunteers. While Young Flying Fish (officially known as RX73) is exactly half way through it’s restoration and should be completed by May 2015 under the watchful eye of Steve Barrow. Work on Sandra (RX83) will soon begin with substantial repairs needed.
Steve Barrow is the last boat builder on the Stade and has many years experience, having started as an apprentice at Phillips of Rye and worked as a boat builder all of his career, who said of the project; “It’s important to restore the old fishing boats as there won’t many around like this in the future and really important for people to see their history and learn about the importance of the fishing industry.
“It’s great to have trainees on site learning a new set of skills and for them to have the opportunity to learn about boat restoration.”
All 21 trainees and volunteers involved in the project, have played a key role in the restoration with two trainees planning to go on to carpentry apprenticeships.
Adam Fulton, aged 17, a trainees from Hastings, “I have enjoyed gaining more experience in my use of tools which is important if you aim to be a carpenter.
“It is a unique area to be working on within carpentry and I feel proud of what I have achieved. It is great to have an experienced boat builder to teach me the skills and give me the confidence to start an apprenticeship.”
Managed by Groundwork South, the trainees and volunteers are from the local Hastings and St Leonards area. The project is supported by Hastings Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG), Hastings Fishermen’s Protection Society and works closely with Amicus Horizon housing association.
Cllr Peter Chowney, Chair of FLAG described his delight at seeing the project come to life; “I'm very pleased we were able to fund this project. Getting young people involved in maintaining and restoring boats is important to the sustainability of the Hastings fishery, and gives the young trainees the opportunity to learn valuable skills.
“We need to make sure there's a new generation of fishermen and craftspeople to keep the local fleet alive. I'm glad that Groundwork South has been able to lead such a worthwhile project so successfully.”
In addition to boat building skills there will be an opportunity for volunteers to gain construction skills through building a machinery store for the fishermen.
The project aims to be completed between May and July 2015 (weather depending).The three boats will be based at The Stade beach where the pubic can visit them to see and learn about life as sea. Two of the boats still have engines, winches and fishing equipment and the project aims to show people, with the help of local fishermen, the role the boats had both in fishing but also in sea rescues.
While the third boat will be accessible for adults and children to explore and enjoy creative play. Groundwork’s long-term plan is to take the vessel to events in the local area to spread the word to a wider audience.
In the coming weeks the team will be constructing a boat shed on the beach which will be designed specifically for the use of a hoist so working fishing boats’ skippers can take engines in and out of their boats safely and easily.
Keep up to date with the progress of the project via the projects Twitter and Facebook pages.
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