Welcome to Woodbridge home to the Anglo-Saxon Shipbuild
This website is where you can follow some of the developments leading towards the building of the full-size reconstruction of the ship that was buried at Sutton Hoo (just across the river from Woodbridge) in AD 625.
To read more about the ship, hover cursor on 'Ship' at the top of this page
Sae Wylfing's programme and the TALKS schedule will be on the Using Sae Wylfing page.
There are also reports on activities that took place on and around the river, such as those below.
For obvious reasons, following the Covid 19 outbreak, activities are now curtailed.
The Museum has to be reworked internally and it is doubtful that it will reopen in 2020 whilst this work is done.
The Longshed is not open to the public, although some work on the ship recommenced at the end of August.
The Woodbridge Tide Mill is open at the weekends, see their website.
Gates under construction Closed with water flooding the riverside path
Wet weather coupled with high winds at the start of 2020 created very High Water levels in the River Deben causing the floodgates to be closed to protect the waterfront's Whisstocks Square. These glass-topped gates are at the lowest level of any of the Woodbridge gates, so they are the first to be closed. When they are closed there is still access to the Square from Tide Mill Way. They weigh 3.5 tons and are 11 metres in length, so it is quite a lengthy process to move them. After closure a seal at the base is inflated to make them watertight. A timelapse video of them being closed can be seen on the Woodbridge Town Council website by searching Floodgates.
Re-launching of the Deben Cherub 'Ariel' at
the Woodbridge Boatyard
The relaunching of the Cherub 'Ariel' was typical of an event that brought together the wonderful Woodbridge Waterfront community spirit. A crowd had gathered, a small band, the Harbour Lights Trio played, cloths covered temporary tables supporting photo albums of boats as well as snacks and drinks for anyone who wanted them. The backdrop was the elderly weatherboarded boat workshop, packed to the rafters with a fascinating array of objects very-ancient-and-modern and craft awaiting restoration. The crane swung the boat into the water where it was immediately brought to life once more, The crowd rippled a gentle applause, everyone took their pictures, exchanged their greetings and gently melted back into their usual activity of walking their dogs. Their pride in the river's heritage reaffirmed.
Built between 1924 and 1937 by Everson & Sons of Woodbridge, the Deben Cherub has come to represent their yard for many. Now, half a century since the Cherubs were last seen in large numbers, racing from the Deben Yacht Club under the starter’s 12 bore shotgun fired by Alfred Everson, they are regaining momentum on the River Deben.
Everson & Sons, which in 2010 was renamed The Woodbridge Boatyard, is once again home to a flock of Cherubs and it is hoped that the once hotly contested Cherub Cup will soon become a regular fixture again.
In April last year, The Woodbridge Boatyard was acquired by Mr. Eric Reynolds and since then has been a hive of activity. With the restoration of the 107-year-old ‘Phoenix Shed’ and improvements made to the other workshop facilities,
‘Ariel’ has been undergoing renovation of her topsides with her old caulking raked out, handmade larch splines shaped to go between each plank and fresh oakum caulking in place, she has been repainted and was launched to sit alongside her sisters, ‘Cherub’, for whom the rest of the class are named, ‘Rohaise II’, ‘Lynette’ and ‘Fortuna’.
Woodbridge and the Deben is a popular area for classic boats with picture-postcard sailing and skilled businesses with an appreciation for classic boats.
The John Gibbens Gallery on the mezzanine floor in The Longshed held a display of information relating to every aspect of the tide. Information boards explained the workings of the waterflow and all the terminology involved. There were models constructed by students from Farlingaye School and looped videos running showing time-lapse of the tidal movement. Talks were scheduled each afternoon, some for adults and some especially aimed at children to provide interest throughout their half-term.
Lower down this page is a video of the Ship's Company volunteers riving an oak log in order to make planks. Since the video was made more oak has arrived and this time, the dimensions are much increased. The volunteers are constructing a short, full-size, section of the ship, in order to gain experience on longer planks and the challenges of attaching planks to each other. The softwood formers that will guide the planks are in place. These are not part of the actual ship's structure, but they are used to ensure that the shape being made is an accurate representation of the form of the ship that was buried.
It is perhaps legitimate to quote from Alfred Lord Tennison's poem The Talking Oak, as he was a frequent visitor to Woodbridge to see his good friend Edward FitzGerald. Pictures: Warwick Faville
'Ah! With what delighted eyes Following gales in early 2020 the Ship's Company appealed
I turned to yonder oak for windfall oaks to help with the shipbuilding project.
Formwork for trial midship half-section. Split trunk. Longshed interior
Did you see?
TV celebrity comes to The Longshed.
Raiders of the Lost Past a BBC 4 documentary broadcast at the end of 2019. Dr Janina Ramirez was telling the Sutton Hoo story and as part of this she visited The Longshed to be pictured alongside the banner depicting the full-size image of the ship. The petite form of Ms Ramirez certainly contrasted with the huge craft and really demonstrated it's overwhelming dimensions. Janina Ramirez has always held a special interest in this historical period, something that she confirmed during the programme when she related how the story of the discoveries at Sutton Hoo were instrumental in encouraging her particular interest in the art of the period. This is something that she has covered in some detail in previous television programmes such as Treasures of the Anglo-Saxons. The short BBC 4 series had other episodes. If you missed it, it may be possible to find it on iPlayer.
Sae Wylfing visits the British Museum
The British Museum hosted a Festival of Archaeology event showcasing a number of organisations and activities available to the general public. The diverse range included the opportunity to experience geophysics, cave painting, investigating family trees and many other fun things-to-do, including relishing the contents of a special lunch box containing Viking cheese and Roman bread.
One of the stars of the show was, of course, a model of the ONLY near-complete Anglo-Saxon ship ever found. To see a short video hover your cursor on Using Sae Wylfing at the top of this page and click on Sae Wylfing Afloat to read about this Grand Day Out.
Woodbridge Regatta (cancelled 2020) This was last year.
The whole of the waterfront from the Deben Yacht Club to the Tide Mill was a hive of activity last year as the town enjoyed a hot day of sunny weather. Many stalls and activities surrounded the Town Quay and sprits and gaffs graced the sky once more above the wide range of craft gathered to celebrate the town's close association with the river. On the water the 5th Woodbridge Sea Scouts' raft-racers vied for space with Sae Wylfing the 45ft Anglo-Saxon longboat. Deben Yacht Club racers provided much of the action under sail and the St Ayles skiff constructed in The Longshed earlier in the year probably took the prize for being the most glossy craft afloat being enjoyed by its builders. The area in front of The Longshed was thronging with hundreds of people enjoying the Morris Dancers and the lovely evocative sounds created by the Woodbridge Excelsior Band. Don't miss this wonderful event.
Here are just a few pictures to catch a flavour of the scene.
Axing the Oak
There were volunteers in The Longshed learning how to rive timber as this will be needed for the reconstruction of the Anglo-Saxon ship. They were under the expert eye of Damian Goodburn a foremost expert in this procedure. Many visitors came to see the intriguing process of driving wedges into the wood to form splits, then using axes to trim the timber down to size. This method produces wood with special strength qualities - strength that tends to be lost if the wood is simply sawn. The Anglo-Saxons understood this well, although it was a mysterious practice to most visitors. A blacksmith was hand forging and there were craftspeople sewing leather, spinning, working stone and selling handmade items. Take a look at the axing of the oak in this short video.
There willl be similar unique items of interest at the Regatta event on 24 May 2020 and also make a note of an
Anglo-Saxon weekend based on The Longshed 11/12 July 2020
Hundreds of interested people generated a carnival atmosphere on the waterfront as they gathered to see the launching of two craft that had been constructed in The Longshed. It had been a race to complete the first craft to be launched from the new facility. It was fitting that the community recognised its young people's efforts, for the first craft was the result of their hard work.
The pirogue canoe in build
A group of young people from Just 42, had been active. Half-a-dozen
At almost the same time a St Ayles skiff constructed over the winter period by a dedicated team of vounteers in the Longshed was launched. It was named Whisstock after the former boatyard on this waterfront site. The St Ayles skiff project uses a plywood kit, based on a traditional Fair Isle craft designed by Ian Oughtred. These kits are used by many groups throughout the UK and abroad. The 22ft clinker-built, coxed, 4-oared skiffs are constructed and rowed by people of all ages and gender. It is estimated that the build team invested about 500 hours of work in the craft.
The mayor David Mortimer leads the skiff to the water
A new Woodbridge Coastal Rowing Club has been set up for people who want to row the new skiff on the River Deben. The new club joins an established network of Coastal Rowing clubs in Norfolk, Essex and around much of the UK coast as well as a recognised programme of local and national competitions. WRT is very pleased that Suffolk Coastal District Council is supporting these projects through the Enabling Communities Exemplar Grant programme and a generous donation from the makers of video Life on the Deben (see below). Anyone wishing to join a build team for the next skiff can find details on the WoodbridgeRiversideTrust.org website.
Inset into the breasthook just behind the bow, is a new Sovereign. Mike Pratt (white hat just behind the mayor) thought of this wonderful idea and sourced the coin from the Royal Mint - the very first connection between royalty and the Longshed - that was constructed for a royal shipbuild.
Woodbridge Haven and Visitor Centre houses the Woodbridge Museum. The Museum moved from the Market Hill in Woodbridge to its new facility on the waterfront adjacent to The Longshed. A move such as this takes a great deal of work and money which was provided by the supporters of the museum. The minimal entry fee now contributes towards its running costs. Due to Covid 19 restrictions the Museum may not reopen until 2021.All the organisations on the Waterfront are keen to attract interested people to become 'Friends' to raise awareness and generate more visitors.
The Visitor Centre has books and leaflets providing information on the heritage and attractions of the town. There are leaflets for self-guided walks about the town and displays charting its history. The upper floor of the Centre has an activity area that can be used for meetings, talks and workshops. For information contact 01394 385572. A virtual museum provides further information and there will be descriptions and photographs of objects in the reserve collection.
There is a comprehensive set of paintings by the renown Suffolk Artist -Thomas Churchyard
In addition to the museum's own paintings additional works from private collections are sometimes displayed.
Misty Morning Woodbridge Waterfront (Jacq Barnard)
The Longshed is directly alongside the world-famous Woodbridge Tide Mill.
The Tide Mill is now open again for milling demonstrations in addititon to the full schedule of wheel turning. The mill is surely the most icon building on the East Coast and certainly the most photographed. It was constructed to harness the power of the tide. The rising water was trapped in a mill pool and then after the tide receded the water was released to turn the 5m wheel, to drive the machinery of the mill. A mill was first recorded on this site in 1170 and was run by Augustinian's until Henry VIII saw his opportunity and 'confiscated' it from them. Later, Elizabeth I sold it to Thomas Seckford, a name still very famous in Woodbridge. The mill has a wonderful arrangement of wooden and iron cogs, wheels and lifting machinery, all maintained in full working order. It is possible to see the mill in operation grinding flour that can be used for baking.
Woodbridge Art Club. The Summer Exhibition usually opens in the club's gallery on Tide Mill Way. There are paintings, pottery, calendars and cards, as well as the book relating to the club's first 50 years which began when the artists hung their pictures on the railings of the nearby railway station. (woodbridgeartclub.org.uk)
Recent History (Almost)
Anglo Saxon ship. In October 2018 an International Symposium of academic and archaeology experts together with experienced boat builders met in The Longshed. This event was by invitation only. They heard about the 5 - 6 years of research that had gone into the hull of the Sutton Hoo (also called the Mound 1) ship. A series of questions was compiled by The Ship's Company to be put to these people who have related knowledge and experience.
The aim was to make sure that everything had been properly researched and that the proposed construction met with approval. If this proves to be the case then the way will be open to commence construction.
Currently very few people understand the depth of the investigations that has been going on, so following the Symposium a talk was given in the Longshed for the benefit of local people. The same talk was given twice in October 2018. Over 200 people attended these talks.
The content of the talk covered the investigations that have taken place, what information was gathered and what discoveries were made. Explanations of the techniques and tools to be used and what skills will be needed. There were descriptions of the challenges to be faced, with outline explanations of the lofting principles and the possible setting up of mould frames in order to check the accuracy of the build.
Left. Researcher/speaker Paul Constantine observes Frame 8 set-up alongside full-size banner of ship.
Right. Frame 8 with the open door of The Longshed and the River Deben beyond.
The Longshed was opened by the Mayor on April 21 2018
The film 'Life ON THE Deben' made in association with the Woodbridge Riverside Trust,
produced by Malcolm Hodd, filmed by Tim Curtis and narrated by presenter John McCarthy
has been a huge success.
It was originally scheduled for only about three local showings,
but the demand meant that it was reschuled time after time.
As each new showing was announced it sold out within a few hours.
There is now an accompanying book.
Life on the Deben
See website: LifeontheDeben.com for details
Thousands of DVDs have been sold and more details can be found on its website.
The King's River.
The first community activity on the Waterfront site was a specially commissioned music and dance production.
An outline of the story-content and the people involved can be found on the Longshed page.
Click at top of this page, then scroll down on Longshed & The King's River
An Explanation of the Woodbridge Waterfront
The waterfront was redeveloped to replace an old boatbuilding site
called Whisstocks that has been unused for about 20 years
The Community's area linking the Town Quay and the Tide Mill is known as Woodbridge Waterfront .
To see a Video East record of the demolition go to www.WoodbridgeRiversideTrust.org
Woodbridge Waterfront (community) & the Whisstocks Development (commercial)
In the centre there is a slipway between a barge and a yacht.
Tracks run back across the waterfront square to the large door of the Longshed.
The projecting building (left) will house the Woodbridge Museum.
Four long buildings to the rear at the right are for accommodation and shops.
Front right is a restaurant.
To the extreme left of the illustration is the Town Quay and extreme right the Tide Mill.
Artist's impression. Left: Woodbridge Museum. Back left: Longshed. Back right: Apartments with shops below. Right: Restaurant with apartment over.
This is no longer an artist's impression, but the actual buildings as seen from the water. Their subdued colours allow the Tide Mill to remain the focus of attention.
To read more about the Longshed click on it at the top of the page.
To read more about our Anglo-Saxon longboat Sae Wylfing, seen here at a Sutton Hoo event
click on either of its pages at the top of this page.
Imagine Sae Wylfing and her crew arriving at a school near you to tell you the story of the Anglo-Saxons.
If you live locally, it could happen. Click on Using Sae Wylfing at the top of the page.
Woodbridge Riverside Trust is SUPPORTED BY:
Click on link
www.ClaudiaMyatt.co.uk Claudia Myatt artist
www.MoonshinePublications.co.uk Maritime Publishing
www.UKwoodland.com Natural timber supplies. Wood fuel
www.IBTC.co.uk International Boatbuilding Training College
www.NationalTrust.org.uk/sutton-hoo National Trust site
www.SuttonHoo.org Sutton Hoo Society
For aerial-drone shots like the one of the Old Boatyard towards the top of the pagewww.david-mortimer.com
For Video East see www.videoeast.co.uk
To read more about Historical Times click here for Why? When? & How?