Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust (PNBPT) Chief Executive, Mr Peter Goodship, and Rear Admiral Neil Rankin, a Freeman of the Shipwrights Company, hosted a small group of Shipwrights on a visit to Boathouse 4 in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard. Boathouse 4, which dominates the Victory Gate entrance, has recently been refurbished and returned to its original use – it now houses the International Boatbuilding Training College Portsmouth (IBTCP) and the Solent Marine Academy with both institutions offering training courses. The Shipwrights’ visitors included the Third Warden, Tony Vlasto, the Chairman of the Education and Charities Committee, Laura Bugden and the Chairman of the Shipwrights’ Apprenticeship Scheme, Basil Mavroleon and they were accompanied by Paul Harris and the Clerk.
Following an initial brief on the redevelopment of Boathouse 4 and an overview of IBTCP and Solent Marine Academy the visitors were treated to a tour of the shop floor where a dazzling array of small vessels were being worked on by students including the yacht LIVELY LADY, two Royal Navy Pinnaces from WW1 and the Bermudan sloop FANDANGO. Also in for restoration work is a very significant sailing vessel; the DOLLY VARDEN. Built in 1872 the infamous Uffa Fox described her as “Probably the fastest boat of her length in the world in spite of her 63yrs” in 1935 at which point she was being used by sailmakers Ratsey & Lapthorne to test cutting edge rig designs. It’s great to see her being brought back to life. The Company will continue to support Billmeir Award applications from IBTCP students and Paul Harris was keen to investigate options for the SA Scheme with Solent Marine Academy whose aspiration is to train apprentices and find them suitable SMEs! The visitors were also treated to a visit to the newly unveiled Jutland Exhibition. Entry to Boathouse 4 is free for visitors, who are actively encouraged; entry to the Jutland exhibition has a small fee and has just opened.