Portsmouth’s shipwrights of old unite to praise new generation

Richard Atherton of Petersfield, the first winner of the award funded by the Association of Royal Naval Shipwrights, flanked by members of the group
Richard Atherton of Petersfield, the first winner of the award funded by the Association of Royal Naval Shipwrights, flanked by members of the group

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MEMBERS of the old guard of shipbuilding in Portsmouth have used their last sliver of cash to inspire the next generation of shipwrights in the city.

Yesterday marked the final action of the city’s branch of the Association of Royal Naval Shipwrights before it is wound up.

The group used its bit of cash to create a new award for students studying at the International Boatbuilding Technology College in the Historic Dockyard’s Boathouse 4.

The trophy, which depicts a shipwright carving a piece of wood, is to be presented to the most improved student at the college.

Richard Atherton, 24, of Petersfield, was the first to receive the accolade.

He has two months left of his 47-week course to complete.

He said: ‘It was so unexpected. I’m really quite chuffed with it. It’s a real honour.

‘Being on this course makes me feel like I’m a part of history and keeping a trade alive.’

The award was presented outside the newly-unveiled Shipwrights Way marker, at the corner of Boathouse 4.

Association member Peter Wyles, who handed over the award along with a £100 donation to the college, said: ‘It’s brilliant to see the next generation of shipwrights coming through.’

Bob Daubeney is part of the association and has worked on HMS Warrior for the past 18 years.

He explained the day was about helping to immortalise the shipwrights profession.

‘We wanted to do something that wouldn’t be forgotten,’ said the former Charge Chief Petty Officer.

The college specialises in traditional skills of wooden boatbuilding.

It runs a variety of courses with students learning how to use traditional tools of the trade.

IBTC chief executive Nat Wilson said: ‘We are immensely proud to have this trophy and to be associated with such an august body.

‘I hope in our own small way we can continue to spread shipwrighting skills and help to preserve our maritime heritage.’