Shipbuilding skills

Our three ships will be built along the banks of the Thames, probably in or near Deptford. Their creation will take one to two years, and will likely become an attraction in themselves.

Better still, they will represent a unique opportunity to appreciate and even participate in the traditional crafts of building wooden, square-rigged sailing ships, and the many associated skills involved.

We plan to offer the following:

  • Apprenticeships – lasting the duration of the build, and offering the perfect starting point for a professional career involving traditional skills
  • Workshops – from several hours to several days, for amateurs to learn about traditional skills and materials. Even better if you happen to have a small craft of your own which you can work on with your new-found skills.
  • Open days – for individuals and groups to witness traditional craftspeople at work.

Workshops and open days are likely to involve anything from carpentry through to all kinds of ropework, including, rigging, knots and splices, and wirework.

Traditional skills and crafts

To build and equip fully-functioning replicas of traditional square-rigged ships will require the following:

  • Naval architecture
  • General shipwright skills
  • Carpentry and joinery
  • Metalwork and welding
  • Block, tackle stay and pulley making
  • Sail making
  • Rope making and rigging
  • Caulking
  • Pump making
  • Traditional navigational instrument making

There will also be engineering and electrical requirements. For legal and practical reasons, our replicas of traditional ships will require auxiliary engines and modern navigation equipment, although the focus at all times will primarily be on traditional propulsion and navigation.

There will be two main stages to the work:

  • Building the hull – laying the keel, adding the stern post and the ribs and attaching the ‘skin’. The fitting the tanks, keel tans and engines, laying the decks and fitting the galley.
  • Creating the superstructure – adding the masts, making the rigging, float rigging.

The final stage will be testing and shakedown (sea trial) – after which the ships will be ready for their maiden voyages.

Shipbuilding and the River Thames

With crafts like all the above involved, it’s not surprising that a shipyard in the old days was like a small town.

What we plan to do will recreate much of the same hive of activity and purpose, as, for the first time for over a century, proper ships are built along the banks of the Thames using traditional materials, tools and technologies, while also reviving traditional skills.

Even in the old days, there was a real buzz around a working shipyard. We expect ours to become a real sight in itself, as people come to watch, to learn about and to participate in the building of these magnificent vessels.

Once complete, we will be marking the launches of our ships with a major launch party, which will be a truly spectacular event. Watch this space!

Find out more

If you have an interest in traditional shipbuilding, or are from an organisation with any connection to this, we would like to hear from you – please contact us

For opportunities to learn skills on board the ships once built, see our Maritime Skills page