HISTORY was made as the first wooden boat to be made at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard in five decades was launched.
Built by a group of volunteers, the vessel has brought back the tradition that was at the heart of the docks for many centuries.
Head volunteer Fred Attwood, 73, from Old Portsmouth said: ‘The last boat to be built here was in the 60s, so it has been around 50 years.’
The boat – named Phoenix – was launched after a speech from Fred. A celebratory bottle of beer was poured over her to mark the moment.
He said: ‘Each one of us worked to put the boat together.
‘She is fantastic. We’re taking the dockyard back to what it used to do.’
In total, 30 volunteers were involved in the project, carrying out tasks including painting, sanding and creating seats.
The newest volunteer at the workshop Fay Powell, 65, of Mile End said: ‘It’s really inspirational.
‘It’s inspired me to have a go and build.
‘It felt fantastic to be a part of the launch.
She is fantastic - we are taking back the dockyard to what it used to doFred Attwood
‘I can’t believe it from when I was popping in to see what the boat looked like to now see it in the water.’
The project was a joint partnership between International Boatbuilding Training College and the Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust.
IBTC yard manager Jim Brooke-Jones said: ‘We train the next generation of boatbuilders and those who are interested in the skill.
‘There is an amazement to be there, as it shows what we can create – something that is this brilliant.’
Once the boat has been rowed on The Solent by the volunteers and staff at the dockyard it will have a new home in Boathouse 4, which opens in July.
Volunteer co-ordinator Marian Smith said: ‘We wanted to give people an experience of what it was like to row. We were looking at kits but then we thought “we’re boatbuilders – we should create something unique”.’
The boat will have a section of the side cut out so that disabled visitors get the chance to have a go at rowing.
Phoenix is the first of many boats and repairs that the centre of excellence will be involved with in the coming months.