Boss of Lowestoft college views historic vessel Baden Powell at King’s Lynn

Boatbuilding students from Lowestoft could soon be helping to restore a historic Wash fishing vessel.

Nat Wilson, managing director of the International Boatbuilding Training College, visited the Baden Powell to view work taking place on its 34ft wooden hull.

He met jeweller Tim Clayton, project leader for the Baden Powell, and volunteers Chris Ward, John Woodford and Ron Gray, who hope to re-launch the boat on the Great Ouse next year, when work on her is complete.

Mr Wilson showed how modern materials and techniques could be used without losing the boat's authenticity.

'One example is how to steam a plank so it becomes pliable enough to fix into the curve of the hull,' said Ken Hill, from the King's Lynn Worfolk Boat Trust.

'Tradition says you construct a rigid channel, feed the plank in, then blow steam through it until the plank is pliable enough to bend.

'Then you take out the plank, rush it to the side of the boat and fix it as fast as possible before it starts to straighten again.

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'Nowadays you can fix a plank to a frame of the boat at its centre, make a sleeve for one end with a sheet of plastic and a stapler, and feed the steam into that. A lot faster and easier, and the plank is quickly fixed in place until it 'sets' in the shape required.'

Mr Wilson said the college could help with planking or deck-laying - or the volun teers could come to Lowestoft and do a course in the skills required.

He added it was possible that final year trainees might be able to come over to Lynn for work experience on the Baden Powell as part of their courses.

So far work on the boat has been progressing under the eye of Vic Pratt, local man who was one of the apprentices at the Worfolk family business which built the boat.

Walter Worfolk starting building boats in King's Lynn in 1899, on a site near Gladstone Road in the Friars, on the north bank of the River Nar. The Baden Powell was his first King's Lynn boat, although he was well qualified as part of a much larger boat-building family based in Stainforth, Yorkshire. Walter's sons Gerald and Bill carried on the business in Lynn until the 1980s.

The Baden Powell, launched 1900, is the last surviving double-ended topsand cockler built by the Worfolks of King's Lynn.

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