Maritime Heritage Conference Launches Project to Preserve Traditional Wooden Boatbuilding Skills


Cornwall Marine Network attended a conference in Middelburg, Holland, last month which marked the launch of the Traditional Maritime Skills project.

The aim of the EU project is to record wooden boatbuilding skills that are in danger of disappearing as masters of the trade retire.

The £1m trans-national scheme is part of a partnership between Cornwall, Belgium and the Netherlands. Skills will be recorded in boatyards across these regions, which will then form part of readily-available online training packages. This valuable archive will help ensure a steady workforce of multi-skilled boatbuilders and support regions whose economies have traditionally been entwined with their maritime heritage.

Partners and delegates at last month’s launch conference attended lectures and tours which highlighted the importance of preserving the skills required to maintain and build historic ships.

Guest speaker Howard Mackenzie-Wilson, the Naval Architect behind the building of the world’s largest tall ship Tenacious, delivered an inspiring lecture about the ambitious four-year build project in Southampton.

He told delegates the remarkable story of the build, which involved able and disabled workers, and stressed the importance of preserving skills to enable the marine economy to sustain growth.

The conference also marked the launch of the project’s new website which will promote the project and be come to a Virtual Learning Environment.

CMN marketing manager Tim Bowerbank, who represented Cornwall at the conference, said: “This was another important step towards our objective of preserving the industry’s heritage.”

The conference also coincided with a visit to Middelburg by the Russian tallship Shtandart. Her captain and naval architect Vladimir Martus gave a fascinating presentation on the history of the replica 1703 frigate.

Cornwall Marine Network is to host a two-day study visit for all partners of the Traditional Maritime Skills project this summer. Their fact-finding mission will include visits to key organisations involved in maritime heritage and boatbuilding in Cornwall.


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