What better way to end the week than by bringing you news of the inaugural Wooden Boat Gathering? Taking place on 6th, 7th and 8th May at the award-winning Windermere Jetty Museum and organised by the Wooden Boatbuilders’ Trade Association, the weekend is a chance for wooden boat lovers to get together and share ideas, attend talks, visit the museum and its conservation workshop and perhaps get out on the water, all surrounded by beautiful wooden boats, old and new.
The theme for the weekend is ‘Ensuring the future for boats made of wood’, reflecting the enduring relevance of wood as a sustainable, long-lasting boatbuilding material, with a varied programmed of talks on Saturday and Sunday from four eminent speakers. Leading designer Andrew Wolstenholme will talk about his approach to modern design techniques; author and organic farmer Iain (Tolly) Tolhurst will tell his story of building 35’ (10.6m) ‘Naida’ from storm blown timber; lead conservator at Windermere Jetty and wooden boatbuilder Stephen Beresford will introduce the museum’s fascinating collection of boats and conservation programme and Iain Oughtred will speak about his long and successful career as one of the most highly regarded small boat designers in the world.
The Windermere Jetty Museum stands on the eastern shore of Windermere, England’s largest natural lake, on the site of the former Windermere Steamboat Museum. Reopened in 2019, the museum houses 40 boats covering the history of sailing and boating on Windermere from the late eighteenth century and maintains a conservation workshop for the restoration and conservation of the collection. On Saturday evening there will be a Cumbrian Buffet in the museum, an excellent opportunity to discuss wooden boats and boatbuilding, while museum staff will be leading tours of both the museum and the conservation workshops during the day on Saturday and Sunday.
The event is a welcome echo of another great wooden boat community event, The Wooden Boat Show – first held at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich in 1987 and eventually becoming the Beale Park Show, until it was sadly cancelled in 2019. Writing in our forthcoming May/June issue, Chairman of the Wooden Boatbuilders’ Trade Association and master wooden boatbuilder Colin Henwood explains the attraction: “The Wooden Boat Show was nothing like the gloss and glitz of the mainstream boat shows; it was a gentle, relaxed event where visitors could talk to the person who had actually build the boat, meet the designer, buy a magazine from the bloke who wrote it, even have a go in a real coracle.”
And, of course, it was at this event that the Wooden Boatbuilders’ Trade Association was founded in 1990, when a group of boatbuilders exhibiting at the show decided to form an association to pool ideas and create a collective body to represent wooden boatbuilding. The idea grew, as did the membership, to include allied trades such as designers, timber merchants, boatbuilding schools and our own magazine. Not only does the WBTA bring together people working with wooden boats, it exists to promote wooden boats and boatbuilding and to provide and assurance of quality and craftsmanship through its members. The WBTA encourages anyone wanting to start in a wooden boat business with mentoring and a special subscription rate and full members of the WBTA all have to prove that their work is of a quality and standard that deserves the WBTA logo.
Everyone is welcome at the Wooden Boat Gathering – enthusiasts and experts alike – and tickets are available from firstname.lastname@example.org Weekend tickets cost £35 per person and include museum entry and all talks and tours. Tickets are also on sale for the Saturday evening meal, at £35 per person. Numbers for the weekend are limited, so book your place as soon as you can!