New Longshed building designed to brighten Woodbridge’s Waterfront opened at Whisstocks development site
- Credit: Archant
A 20-year campaign to breathe new life into the Woodbridge Waterfront reach an important milestone on Saturday, as town officials opened the new and improved Longshed building.
The purpose-built facility, which has been given to the town as part of the development of the former Whisstocks boatyard site, was opened by the Mayor of Woodbridge at 11am on Saturday, April 21, as part of a Longshed open day.
Plans for the 100ft (33m) Longshed include the building of a life-size replica of the Sutton Hoo royal burial ship, measuring almost 90ft (27m) in length.
The ship build would be the first ever reconstruction of an Anglo-Saxon ship and could be used as educational resource, with close links to the town’s maritime past.
Sae Wyfling, a half length replica of the Sutton Hoo Ship was on display and visitors watched demonstrations of a St Ayles skiff being rowed on the river.
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The Longshed is designed to host a range of community maritime activities, including the building of smaller traditional boats, along with concerts, exhibitions and other events to celebrate the value of the River Deben and its environment.
The Woodbridge Riverside Trust has been granted a 35-year lease on the Longshed by the town council, ensuring a purpose-built facility for building the Sutton Hoo ship and hosting other maritime events and activities.
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The trust’s executive chairman, Bryan Knibbs, said: “Taking on the Longshed lease is a milestone in our plans to revitalize the Woodbridge Waterfront and highlight the town’s maritime heritage. We are developing an exciting programme of community events and activities which will take place in and around the Longshed.”
Woodbridge Mayor, Clare Perkins, added: “I speak on behalf of the whole Town Council when I say how thrilled we are that the Woodbridge Riverside Trust will be carrying on with the traditional skills of boatbuilding and preserving the maritime heritage as the new leaseholder of the Longshed, which is an important asset of the town. It will be wonderful to watch this historic Waterfront being brought back to life with the energy from local people getting involved as much as possible in all activities that the Trust offers and coming to the local events and festivals that will happen on the Square.”
Planned activities include the construction of two wooden St Ayles rowing skiffs, one purchased with a grant from the Suffolk Coastal District Council Enabling Communities budget and the other from profits generated by the highly successful film ‘Life on the Deben’ which has been screened to sell out audiences all over Suffolk.
The ship build, which is based on the discovery of the outline of a royal burial ship and associated treasure at Sutton Hoo across the river from Woodbridge, is being led by the Sutton Hoo Ship’s Company, which operates under the umbrella of the Woodbridge Riverside Trust.
Andrew Fitzgerald, deputy chairman of the Sutton Hoo Ship’s Company, said: “We are already deeply involved in preparing for an authentic build and this project has the potential to provide us with another important piece in the Sutton Hoo jigsaw.
“We are actively seeking funding bodies, individuals and corporate donors who can help us make it happen.”