The King's River
The Longshed is a covered space for community use. It is over 30 metres in length, hence its name. The concept of the complete modern development began with the Longshed. It came first and then the other buildings were arranged around it. Prior to the development the townspeople had used the old Whisstocks site for events where they had the open space and some covered space in the empty boat sheds. By replacing one boat shed with the new Longshed, the community retained the same facilities, but improved and brought up-to-date. The initial use of the shed has been to construct the Anglo-Saxon longship, but the internal space has also been used for community events and its long term use will be for such activities.
Looking at the interior from the front doors, straight ahead is a large working space and to the left is further space with a mezzanine floor above it. Steps ascend from the front entrance door of the shed to give access to the mezzanine floor. At the back of the mezzanine there are two offices. One is for site management and one is a staff/kitchen room. At the front of the mezzanine is a Heritage Resource area that is used for community education activities. This is called the John Gibbins gallery after John who was instrumental in driving forward the community's early efforts to secure the facility for the town.
Early concept sketch. The front door is to the right, rear door to the left. Right: Empty mezzanine looking towards the rear of the building.
The total space available within the the Longshed is flexible.
Below: Another concept sketch with offices and access stairs. Below: Artist's impression of Heritage Resource Centre space on mezzanine
When the buildings were handed to the Town Council an independent management team - Woodbridge Riverside Trust began the process of fitting out the Longshed for community use. This occupied much of 2018. In October 2018 a group known as The Sutton Hoo Ship's Company began organising the full-size reconstruction of the Sutton Hoo ship in the Longshed. The ship is being constructed by this group which is not part of the National Trust who operate the ship-burial site on the opposite bank of the river.
An actual early photograph of the interior looking from the rear towards the front. An artist's impression looking from the front towards the rear.
The Longshed Today
During the pandemic the Longshed had to be closed to the public. It is now open to the public at certain times. For details, see WoodbridgeWaterfront.org.
The door to the left gives access.
The raised roller door has mesh netting to dissuade pigeons from flying around inside!
The Open Space. Whisstocks Square
The very first community activity on the site combined music and dance in a specially commissioned production entitled The King's River (see below). Local people and schoolchildren combined with professionals to celebrate the story of the ship burial and the maritime links that Woodbridge has with the river.
The Kings River production ran in July 2017.
THE KING'S RIVER
The production was the brainchild of Sam Simpson and Nancy Clay
whose tireless work made it possible,
both of them are still instrumental in the running of the Longshed.
Composer. Jana Rowland
Librettists. Sylvia Fairley and Dominic Shea
Director. Andrew Tidmarsh
Musical Director. Andrew Leach
Designer. Claire Lyth
Choreographer. Caroline Mummery
Production Manager. Rosie Hoare
Stage Manager. Silki Morrison
"The King's River" was a newly composed community musical theatre led by professionals in 2 parts, both relating to the story of the discovery of the Sutton Hoo burial ship and the treasure.
The composer was Jana Rowland and the librettists Sylvia Fairley and Dominic Shea.
"The King's River" was written specially to celebrate the opening of the development and the new community space and Longshed after more than 20 years of inactivity.
To produce The King's River the space in front of the Longshed was surfaced and tiered seating was installed.
There were designated areas for musicians, lighting, sound and changing areas for the actors.
The Woodbridge Riverside Trust has retained the many wonderful costumes which have been displayed at later dates, for the interest of visitors.
To find out more: