The site on which St Osyth Boatyard sits has been a port since 1214.
Barges used to trade up to St Osyth, moving farm produce and servicing the tide mill. Apparently during the depression there were 22 barges laid up there, awaiting work.
The South Bank was used for boat building while the north side was used for wharf and cargo. Several Thames barges and the schooner "Kathleen" were built there.
The slipway was first put in in 1945 and was put there to haul out Fairmiles to convert them to houseboats. The slipway sheds were also built at around the same time.
According to Vanessa Bird in her book "Classic Classes", the first British Folkboats were built in 1948-9 at St Osyth Boatyard.
Many of the local BOD (Brightlingsea One Design) dinghies were worked on at St Osyth Boatyard in the 50's and 60's and many "Stellar" class boats were built there along with many other new wooden boats at that time.
The big shed used to have a mezzanine floor with rigging loft to make rigging for the boats being built.
The current slipwinch was given to the boatyard in 1953 by the admiralty to pull houseboats off the road that had been stranded there in the 1953 flood. Prior to that a tractor engine was probably used to haul boats up the slipway.
When fibreglass production took off and wooden boats were less fashionable, business slowed and the boatyard changed hands, but not before (at least) 2 Nicholson 36's were built out of GRP.
At this time, the area was dredged heavily and the banks on the South Bank built up with a view to creating a marina.
The boatyard was taken on by Andy Harman, Dick Harman and Phil Dan on 15th April 1987. The boatyard at this point had been standing empty for 12 years and extensive work has since been undertaken to create the facilities available at the boatyard today. Andy's son Joe took on the role of boatyard manager in 2017.
We have recently heard from the owner of 'Samphire of St Osyth' a Nicholson 36 which was built at the boatyard in 1963-64. Her current owner told us "She was built for a Dr Peter Morck of Dun Laoghaire, Dublin. She exchanged hands many times in the intervening years and was rescued from a slow decline several years ago by her last owner and substantially renovated. We have subsequently continued the work on her and she is in good shape and actively sailing, last year completing a circumnavigation of Ireland." Thank you to Frank O'Beirne for the information. A photograph of 'Samphire' sailing in Glandore Classic Week is below.
Rebuilds/restorations carried out under current ownership
(approximate dates shown)
If anyone has any memories of photographs of St Osyth Boatyard from years past, please do get in touch as we would love to add to our "history".
1990: Sailing Smack "Martha II"
1989-1992: Sailing Barge "EDME" (continuation of restoration by Ian Danskin in Maldon) http://www.edmebarge.com/
1989-1992 (approx): Sailng Barge "Northdown" (new sides, new bottom)
Date TBC: Sailing smack "Polly"
1994: Schooner "Trinovante" (Built in Wivenhoe, arrived in 2 pieces and was assembled on the slipway at St Osyth) https://www.schoonersail.com/ (available for sailing holidays)
1996-1998: "Cailach" (refit for long distance cruising, Cailach was then taken on a year long sailing excursion)
1997-2000: Sailing Smack "ADC" (full rebuild)
Date TBC: Ed Burnett 30ft Gaff Cutter "Fable" (new build, strip plank on laminate frame)
2000: Sailing Smack "Our Boys" (full rebuild)
2007: Sailing Smack "Maria" (completion of rebuild started by Rick Cardy) http://ck21maria.co.uk/
2012: Sailing Barge "Thalatta" (full lottery funded rebuild and refit) https://thalatta.org.uk/
2017: Fishing Smack "Baden Powell" ( http://floatourboat.co.uk/
2018 (ongoing): Last Chelmer Lighter "Susan" (full rebuild) http://www.susantrust.btik.com/
2018 (ongoing): Falmouth Workboat "Bluebell" (extensive refit)
2018 (ongoing): 1800's police cutter "Victoria" (complicated refit)
2018: "Twee goer brothers" (94ft Dutch Barge - Engine/generator serviced, grit blasted, painted and rigged)
2018 - present: "Micron" (10ft clinker built rowing dinghy - general repair and restoration)