Boatbuilding College opens its doors for popular open weekend

International Boatbuilding Training College Rob Harbord Lowestoft

Rob Harbord with handmade oars that were demonstrated at the International Boatbuilding Training College open weekend. - Credit: Mick Howes

Traditional construction techniques were showcased as a popular boatbuilding college opened its doors.

With the Lowestoft Heritage Open Days Festival offering almost 120 free to explore events across town between September 10 and September 19, an open weekend was successfully held at the International Boatbuilding Training College (IBTC) as part of the festival.

Visitors were invited to see some of the 20 vessels under construction using traditional boatbuilding skills at the IBTC.

 IBTC Director Lyn Tupper Lowestoft

IBTC Director Lyn Tupper with some of the craft under construction. - Credit: Mick Howes

Lyn Tupper, director of the IBTC on Sea Lake Road, Oulton Broad, said: "We have about 20 boats that our students are working on that visitors were interested to see.

"These included 9ft and 12ft dinghies in various states of construction, both clinker and carvel built.

"We have other boats that are in various stages of repair from 12ft up to 35ft.

International Boatbuilding Training College Lowestoft

Some of the vessels on view at the International Boatbuilding Training College open weekend. - Credit: Mick Howes

"As well as having the college, we also run a commercial boatyard and in that we have diversified and are currently building a mill cap that is being constructed by our professional boatbuilders and is destined for Swaffham Prior Smock Mill in Cambridgeshire.

International Boatbuilding Training College Mill cap smock mill

A Mill cap for a smock mill under construction at the International Boatbuilding Training College open weekend in Lowestoft. - Credit: Mick Howes

"The mill is going to be used to generate electricity ultimately.”

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With the college currently training "about 20 students," Mrs Tupper added: "We have just had 10 people graduate, all of which have found employment working either locally or elsewhere in the UK.

International Boatbuilding Training College Lowestoft

Some of the vessels on view at the International Boatbuilding Training College open weekend. - Credit: Mick Howes

"We have three intakes a year and additionally we run short courses.

"Our students come from a range of backgrounds.

"We have people who have masters' degrees and others who have left school with their basic GCSE’s - but they all have a desire to learn the skills that we teach here.

"There is no such thing as a typical student.”

With the majority of what is taught at the college being "hands on", Mrs Tupper added: "It is mainly working in wood although we do teach GRP (Glass Reinforced Plastic).

International Boatbuilding Training College Lowestoft

Some of vessels on view at the International Boatbuilding Training College open weekend. - Credit: Mick Howes

"The boatbuilding course lasts 47 weeks - it starts with joinery and at the end of the course they have a Level 3 City and Guilds boatbuilding qualification, and they can take the IBTC diploma which is internationally recognised within the industry.”

As well as viewing the boats, visitors over the weekend were also able to watch demonstrations of handmade oars being crafted and traditional wire work techniques.

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