#LocalBoatbuilding 11


Ipswich’s reputation for quality and skilled shipbuilding had already been established in past centuries such that many of the Admiralty commissioned wooden warships were constructed here for a time, until the plentiful supply of oak became depleted.  This is well documented, and this display celebrates the famous names of local designers Sir Thomas Slade (designer of Admiral Nelson’s Flagship HMS Victory), and Richard Gower (designer and builder of the revolutionary ship Transit). The world of yachting also owes a great debt of gratitude to such local innovators as Austin Farrar, some of whose work is featured in the display.

Present day boatyards keep alive these skills from the most traditional wooden boat building, to the most modern, as well as a unique combination of the two in the case of Spirit Yachts. It is hardly surprising that they were chosen to provide yacht for James Bond in the film ‘Casino Royale’, as seen in the large photograph in the display.

When you look at the yachts and different types of sailing craft now moored in the dock, it is worth appreciating that a quite remarkable number of their design features, now copied world-wide, were invented and developed here.


This display is a celebration of local yacht and boat building. In past centuries Ipswich and its river were famed throughout the world for the innovation and quality of its ship building, both for wartime and peaceful trading purposes. What is perhaps not so well appreciated is that, since the early days of yachting for pleasure, this same tradition of invention, and world-beating revolutionary new design flourished, and continues to flourish in local boat yards.  This display seeks to celebrate them, with examples of their work, and in words and photographs.


Caulking is a key part to boat building in order to waterproof wooden hulls and decking. The tools and techniques have changed little over the centuries and we have included several examples of these including Caulking irons, a Caulking mallet as well as the materials used such as Oakum (tarry hemp fibre) and Caulking cotton.