Photo gallery: Special summer events will help tell the story of wooden boats

Rescue Wooden Boats visitors centre in Stiffkey has had a new information panel installed as part of the ongoing progress of developing the museum - From left, George and David Hewitt with the Lucy Lavers, which has progress in its restoration. Picture: Matthew Usher. Rescue Wooden Boats visitors centre in Stiffkey has had a new information panel installed as part of the ongoing progress of developing the museum - From left, George and David Hewitt with the Lucy Lavers, which has progress in its restoration. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Monday, June 16, 2014
4:30 PM

A Norfolk charity working to restore heritage maritime wooden boats has announced some exciting summer projects.

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Restoration bring boats back to life

Rescue Wooden Boats aims to restore back to use on the water a number of wooden working boats, tell their stories through film and photographs as well as to conserve the crafts and skills involved in building and using them.

It was set up set up in July 2011 by master craftsmen and boat builders George and David Hewitt, from Stiffkey, who have an encyclopaedic knowledge of fishing boats and lifeboats, together with other wooden boat, lifeboat and fishing heritage enthusiasts.

The charity’s website features nearly 100 short films, capturing the stories and lives of local fishermen and lifeboat men and their boats as well as boat building and restoration history and techniques.

There are also hundreds of photographs lent to Rescue Wooden Boats by fishing families eager to conserve their heritage.

So far the charity has acquired seven local wooden working boats; two whelkers, three crab boats and a mussel flat as well as Dunkirk veteran lifeboat Lucy Lavers.

The volunteer-run visitor centre at Stiffkey, based in the dining room of the officers’ mess on the former military camp was opened at the end of July 2013.

Since then nearly 1,000 people have visited the displays, films and artefacts and seen the work progressing in the neighbouring boat yard.

People involved with Rescue Wooden Boats, based in Stiffkey, are also delighted with the progress that has been made since it was established three years ago, and optimistic about the charity’s future.

Rescue Wooden Boats patron Robin Combe, who owns the Bayfield Hall Estate, near Holt, said: “I think it is absolutely marvellous what they are doing here. This is going to become one the of the jewels in north Norfolk’s crown and it will be on every visitor’s wish list.

“What I like in particular is how this is not a static museum. It is a charity that is constantly moving forward with boat restoration work on-going that visitors can see and experience.”

A summer events programme, raising money for the charity, includes:

Some of the exhibits on display at the Rescue Wooden Boats Museum at Stiffkey - An old photo of the Lucy Lavers lifeboat. Picture: Matthew Usher.Some of the exhibits on display at the Rescue Wooden Boats Museum at Stiffkey - An old photo of the Lucy Lavers lifeboat. Picture: Matthew Usher.

An exhibition on the life of Wells fisherman and artist Jack Cox, who would have been 100 this year, at Rescue Wooden Boats’ visitor centre at The Old Military Camp, Greenway, Stiffkey, between July 26 and August 2.

Displays of boats, art and an auction of nautical treats at Bayfield Hall on August 6 from 4pm to 8pm. People will be able to bid for places on the Lucy Lavers lifeboat, which is being restored by Rescue Wooden Boats, for each stage of its return trip to Dunkirk.

A concert from The Banned on August 9 featuring jazz and music from the 1960s.

Rescue Wooden Boats will be present at the Burnham Market Craft Fair on August 16.

A weekend to celebrate the life of renowned crab boat builder Billy May with films, displays and boats at Stiffkey from August 23 to August 25.

Rescue Wooden Boats has also unveiled new displays at its Stiffkey visitor centre, funded by a Norfolk Coastal Partnership grant, 
which celebrate Norfolk’s fishing heritage.

New films capturing stories of 
how wooden boats were used locally for whelk fishing, crab fishing, wooden boat building and the Stiffkey Military Camp’s history are also being shown.

Work has also progressed well on Rescue Wooden Boats’ flagship project, restoring the Dunkirk veteran lifeboat Lucy Lavers.

And a new education and room is being developed at Stiffkey, thanks to a grant from Fishing Local Action Group, and preparations are being made for school visits from the autumn term.

The visitor centre is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays, from 10am until 4pm and also on Wednesdays, during school holidays, from 10am until 4pm.

For more about the charity see www.rescuewoodenboats.com, telephone Wendy Pritchard on 07920 760238, or e mail info@rescuewoodenboats.com

Are you setting up a charity? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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