End of Year Report from Lyme Regis Boat Building Academy

The Shipwrights’ Company has long been a supporter of Lyme Regis Boat Building Academy which it has supported through grants and Billmeir awards to students so it was heartening to receive the following report from Will Reed.

“As the sun sets on another eventful year here at the Boat Building Academy, it’s time to look back on the incredible journey we’ve had in 2023. The academy has been buzzing with creativity, passion, and a love for boat building and woodworking.

Here’s a glimpse of the highlights that made this year truly special:

Launches: Our workshops witnessed the creation of eight new wooden vessels. The clinking of champagne bottles marking the successful launches of each unique boat. Every single one a testament to the dedication and skill of their builders, from classic sailing dinghies to stitch & glue motor cruisers. A huge shout out to the Class of August 2022 and February 2023. Starting as complete beginners to now, where they are ready to enter the marine industry as boat builders. It was a pleasure to have all of you with us for 10 months & welcome to the family!

We also managed to grant three bursaries to our boat building students this year. Allowing students to do the course who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford it. We aim to increase this number going into 2024.

List of boats built this year:
12’ strip planked sailing dinghy
13’ stitch & glue sailing dinghy
14’ glued clinker outboard launch
16’ glued carvel day sailor
16’ cold moulded electric motor sailor
18’ traditional clinker inboard launch
20’ stitch & glue motor cruiser
16’6” carvel gorran haven crabber

Furniture Exhibitions: Innovation was at the heart of our furniture makers this year. Students explored new techniques, experimented with different woods, and breathed life into imaginative projects that pushed the boundaries. We handed out six bursaries to Furniture Making students this year and are looking to increase that number in 2024.

Short Courses: In 2023 we had 24 short courses from ‘Beginners Woodwork’ to ‘GRP Repairs’. We welcomed 165 new short course students to the academy.

Guest Speakers & Intructors: We were thrilled to welcome several guest speakers this year. From instructors to people in the industry. Their talks and workshops added layers of learning and insight, enriching our students and guests.

A big thank you to Alice Blogg, Poppy Booth, David Johnson from Wessex Resins & Electric Propulsion.

Lyme Regis Community: Beyond the workshops, we continue to build connections within our local community. Open days, exhibitions, taster days and collaborations with the council and local schools allowed us to share our passion for boat building and woodworking, creating a platform to inspire future generations of craftsmen and women.

This year we built a solid oak bench to commemorate the Kings Coronation. Commissioned by the Lyme Regis Town Council in conjunction with Cleo Evans and the Arts Development Company, encircles a newly planted red oak tree, overlooking the sea, in Langmoor Garden. Eight students at Woodroffe School worked with furniture-maker Poppy Booth at the BBA on the initial framework and steam bending for the bench. The bench was unveiled on the 14th December 2023.

We have now also introduced a 50% discount for locals on our ‘Beginners Woodworking course’. If you know anybody who would be interested, please forward this newsletter to them!

As we come to the end of this remarkable year, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has been a part of it —students, staff, instructors, trustees, supporters, and friends. Your unwavering support, dedication, and enthusiasm have been the wind in our sails.

Looking ahead, 2024 promises to be filled with new opportunities. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from everyone at the Boat Building Academy!”