Whisstocks Project - The Campaign

The Whisstocks Project (Saving the Woodbridge waterfront) has been established by the Woodbridge Riverside Trust to focus exclusively on bringing the old Whisstocks boatyard site in Suffolk into community ownership.

It follows many years of work by concerned members of the Woodbridge community, especially Woodbridge and Melton Riverside Action Group (WAMRAG) and the Town and District Councils,
to find a lasting and proper use for this publicly important site.

The Woodbridge Riverside Trust and Whisstocks Project are trying to gain a vibrant community space that would regenerate the riverside creating a special place for Woodbridge and providing new links between the Town Museum, the Tide Mill, the river and Sutton Hoo. The current plans will enable the use of the public space and the riverfront for the community. The boatshed, with its mezzanine, will also provide a unique opportunity to build a full-size replica of the Sutton Hoo Ship.

About the Whisstocks Project

In 2011 the aim was to acquire the Whisstocks site for the community from the owner who was trying to sell the site. In mid-December 2012 an agreement was reached and an agent would be appointed to represent the interests in the Whisstocks and Nunns Mill sites.


  • To secure long term enjoyment of the area's maritime history and riverside
  • To provide opportunities for education, training and maritime skills development for everyone
  • To keep Woodbridge's waterfront an attractive and interesting destination
  • To forge maritime heritage links between Woodbrdge, Sutton Hoo, the UK and beyond
  • To construct a full-scale replica of the Sutton Hoo Anglo-Saxon burial ship

The Whisstocks development is well underway and, with it, the construction of the 32 metre 'Longshed' which will be at the heart of the community-owned space, bringing boat building back to the Whisstocks site once again.

The Longshed has been specifically designed to accommodate the full size long ship reconstruction, but will also house a wide range of educational and fun projects. Have a look at our website to see what the Longshed will be and what it will offer.  Or peer through the hoardings at Tide Mill Way: its skeleton steelwork is already up.

As well as the Longshed, there will be a new home for Woodbridge Museum (again, the outline of this building is already visible), a restaurant, some commerical units, an outdoor community space and apartments.


Raising funds to fit out the Longshed is our main priority - so that we can turn it into a functioning workshop and activities space as soon as we take on the lease next summer. With generous donations from individuals, two local Trusts and some corporate sponsors we have achieved just over a quarter of the £70k needed. This takes us a long way towards achieving the matched funding for an application to the Landfill Trust - a fund for community projects run by landfill operators.  In the meantime we are looking for more local support from community organisations, businesses and Woodbridge people.

If you'd like to donate or offer your support in another way please get in touch here.

For further details, see Woodbridge Riverside Trust: Who We Are

NEWS - From a ‘bust-up’ to the tiptop – five-and-a-half year Whisstocks boatyard vision hits peak in Woodbridge

9th May 2017

A journey which began in 2013 as a vision to redevelop a derelict Woodbridge boatyard reached its pinnacle as developers revealed a riverside panorama from the project’s highest point.

‘Common sense and compromise’ were attributes echoing round the Deben Wharf site  part of the £13m regeneration of Whisstocks boatyard and Nunn’s Mill factory.

It all started with a ‘bust-up’ between FW Properties and the Woodbridge Riverside Trust (WRT), which formed the Whisstocks Project to ensure work would benefit the community.

Differences were settled, first over a pint of Adnams and then long negotiations, resulting in more than half of the riverside site destined for community use.

It had been hoped the project would be complete by summer, but delays put back the date for completion to later in the season.

Addressing the ‘topping out’ ceremony with contractors RG Carter, financiers Investec, and members of WRT and the town council, FW Properties founder Julian Wells admitted that, at times, the journey had felt longer than five-and-a-half years.

“We faced a number of planning, construction and delivery issues,” he said.

“It hasn’t been easy, but we aimed to reflect the industrial and boat-building heritage of this site, and I think what is being built will do that aspiration justice.

“A bust-up with WRT outside the council offices led to an agreement that we would aim for some community ownership. We now estimate more than half the site will be in the hands of the town council and community.”

Six of 15 apartments are under offer, with one of three commercial units to be occupied by an unnamed local firm, and two suitors interested in The Chandlery restaurant. A boatshed will house construction of a replica Saxon ship, next to a new home for Woodbridge Museum  all protected by an 80ft floodgate.

Nearby Nunn’s Mill includes town houses, apartments and ground floor commercial space.

Woodbridge’s new mayor Clare Perkins directed “all credit it was possible to give” to Riverside ward councillor Kay Yule, who said she had followed in the footsteps of late Whisstocks committee chairman, Charles Notcutt.

She added: “We started with a vision and, as a group, we came to have trust in one another that we had the same goal. It could only be reached with ability to use common sense and compromise.”

Source: Ipswich Star, 9th May 2017


NEWS - Funding campaign launched for town's maritime heritage project

16 May 2016

The Woodbridge Riverside Trust (WRT) hopes to raise the sum through donations, sponsorship and grants, in order to furnish a community boatshed being built as part of the town’s multimillion pound Whisstocks development.

Once complete, the project to transform two derelict industrial sites will also include apartments, townhouses, a restaurant, shops and a new home for Woodbridge Museum.

After being handed over to the town council and leased to WRT, the 32-metre ‘Long Shed’ will house construction of a full-size replica Sutton Hoo Anglo-Saxon burial ship.
The replica ship is the focus of an international living history research project headed by Anglo-­Saxon expert, Professor Martin Carver.
The Long Shed will also be home to on­going heritage boat building training and recreational programmes such as the construction of skiffs to be used by local rowing teams.
Executive chairman, Andrew Fitzgerald said: “Having negotiated for four years for our own community Long Shed and the use of the existing public space and waterfront, we now look forward to developing our projects. It’s been our dream to rebuild the Sutton Hoo ship in Woodbridge and I’m delighted that it’s finally going to happen in such an exciting new space.” 
Events to promote the project will be taking place throughout the year, featuring Anglo-­Saxon re­enactments, crafts, games and public appearances of Sae Wylfing, the scale replica longboat currently being looked after by the trust.
For further details and to make a donation visit woodbridgeriversidetrust.org.
Source:  East Anglican Daily Times, May 2016

NEWS - Exciting new progress at the Whisstocks boatyard site!

January 2016

Demolition of the old buildings is now complete, with new construction on the Whisstocks boatyard site set to begin very soon.  Target date for the handover of new buildings is October 2016.  Here's a summary of developments:

  • Great new website! Click here to see more.
  • Funds secured and business case prepared
  • Triumphant year for the Sae Wyfling - the half size replica Sutton Hoo Anglo Saxon ship
  • Anglo Saxon Ship committee formed for full-size replica build
  • Major musical drama planned for 2017, to celebrate the creation of the new Whisstocks

For more on this and other news, see the Whisstocks project newsletter.

You can also view this great new video clip, which shows all the latest plans!

Image: Dan Fisher's impression of the Longshed (see video clip). www.woodbridgeriversidetrust.org.

 NEWS - Action at last! - March 2015

Demolition is to begin this month at the Whisstocks site, with all the planning hurdles now overcome with the developer, the Suffolk Coastal District Council and Woodbridge Town Council all now keen to press on.

The Woodbridge Riverside Trust have been working on a new website to be launched very soon, setting out future plans and suggesting ways in which the local community can get involved with what happens at Whisstocks.

The Anglo Saxon ship project also continues to make progress following a visit by the Research team to Viking ship experts at Roskilde in Denmark.  Discussions have also continued with experts and community boat builders on the proposed construction of a full size replica of the Anglo Saxon ship.

NEWS - Planning Application gets the go-ahead - Aug 2014

Suffolk Coastal District Council Planning Sub Committee has voted unanimously to approve FWProperties planning application for the Whisstocks and Nunn’s Mill sites – subject to finalisation of the S106 agreement setting out the detail of the legal obligations that the developer will be under to provide community benefit – i.e. the Community Boatshed, Heritage Building, and community use of the open space on the Whisstocks site.

This represents a significant step for the Project team towards achieving their objective of bringing the whole of the derelict boatyard back to life, and the project to build a full-size replica of the Sutton Hoo Anglo-Saxon ship into the heart of Woodbridge.

Community support for the Whisstocks Project Team has been crucial to getting the developers, planning authority and Town Council to engage in serious debate about a genuine mixed use development on the site.

Demolition on the site begins in the Autumn, with a completion date for the whole site, including the community buildings, scheduled for September 2016.

The project team have two years to develop ideas to make the best use of the community space.  If you would like to join in, why not register your interest.

Taken from www.whisstocksproject.co.uk

NEWS - Development Plans for Whisstocks are one step closer - April 2014

The regeneration of the Whisstocks and Nunn’s Mill sites in Woodbridge Town Centre moved a step closer following the recent confirmation of planning permission for both schemes. The Section 106 Agreement has now been entered into by Whisstocks Developments Ltd (the Company which owns both sites), Woodbridge Town Council, and Suffolk Coastal District Council.

The designs for both developments won the support of District Councillors and the local community after a public consultation was held last year by the developer, FW Properties.

See the full Press Release here.  

NEWS – Team focusses on community benefit - Jan 2014

Following the success – to the extent of recommendation for approval – of the planning application for the Whisstocks development last August, the Woodbridge Riverside Trust (WRT) Whisstocks Project team has been hard at work negotiating to ensure that community benefits won in the planning consent are implemented and safeguarded.

Developer FWP is keen to make a start on the plans, and it is hoped demolition will begin on Nunns Mill and Whisstocks in the early summer.  In two years’ time, both developments should be completed, and the Whisstocks Project team are working closely with the town museum and Woodbridge Town Council to ensure maximum community gain for everyone in Woodbridge on the Whisstocks Heritage Hub.

In the meantime, individual activities continue to progress, particularly the Anglo Saxon Ship project which has received huge support.  More information on this can be seen on the temporary Anglo Saxon ship web page, click here.

Taken from Whisstocks Project Newsletter, January 2014

NEWS - Planning application approved - Aug 2013

Suffolk Coastal District Council Planning Sub Committee has voted unanimously to approve FWProperties planning application for the Whisstocks and Nunn's Mill sites - subject to finalisation of the legal obligations that the developer will be under to provide community benefit - ie the Community Boatshed, Heritage Building, and community use of the open space on the Whisstocks site.

This is a really significant step towards achieving the objective of bringing the derelict boatyard back to life,  and the project to build a full-size replica of the Sutton Hoo Anglo-Saxon ship into the heart of Woodbridge.

Community support for the Whisstocks Project Team has been crucial to getting the developers, planning authority and Town Council to engage in serious debate about a genuine mixed use development on the site.

The aim is to get the Anglo-Saxon ship project off the ground as soon as the Community Boatshed is ready for use - which will mean a huge amount of work over the next 18 months.  There will be many opportunities for supporters to be involved.  So watch this space  ....

NEWS Planning applications - Apr 2013

FW Properties submitted applications for development of
the Whisstocks and Nunn’s Mill sites to Suffolk Coastal District Council on 19 April – see their press release.

You can find links to the relevant documentation on the SCDC website by clicking the link to Redevelopment of Whisstocks, Tide Mill Way.

Details of the responses to the pre-application public consultation are included in the planning application.

NEWS Consultation process continues - Feb 2013

A public meeting was held on 10 February by WAMRAG and the Whisstocks Project (WP) as a chance to review the work of the past two years and hear the latest proposals. As a result of the discussion an architectural initiative is
now underway to improve the appearance and quality of the buildings on the site.

WP continues to work on the measures needed to ensure that the public access of the open space is properly controlled for community gain and are continuing to evolve the business plan for the site.

NEWS Developers outline their vision - Jan 2013

The scheme includes a large boat shed in which it is hoped an exact working replica of the Anglo-Saxon ship, discovered nearby at Sutton Hoo, could be built. It also features a heritage building for Woodbridge Museum and a community outdoor space, along with a restaurant, cafe, bar, two shops and 14 holiday homes.

Proposals will be on show to the public at The Crown 24 Jan - 25 Jan 2013.

Whisstocks Yard - Boat Building History

Woodbridge has been involved with ship and boat building as long ago as the 17th century when substantial ships were being built there, mainly to transport timber.  Oak from Suffolk forests was used to construct trading ships to carry this valuable cargo. From 1630 to the end of the century, 15 men-of-war were launched.

During the 18th and 19th centuries ship building continued at Lime Kiln Quay and by the mid-19th century, Woodbridge could have been called a sailing ship town, with schooners being built and repaired and sailmakers, rope and twine makers worked on the Common Quay.

The Deben Yacht Club was founded in 1830 and by 1872 the Grand Woodbridge Regatta became an important annual event. As yachting flourished, there was more work for yacht builders and in 1926 Claude Whisstock, a former apprentice with Robertson's yard, opened his own boatyard.

During the war years over 200 craft were built by Whisstocks for the War Department, Admiralty and Minister of Transport. Immediately after the war, the yard concentrated on building fishing boats but, by 1947, yachts were once again being constructed.

The Whisstocks yard was closed in 1991, having built over 700 vessels of all kinds, many of them fine and famous yachts, still sailing today. Since then the yard has
slipped slowly into a state of dereliction.

All news items are taken from the Whisstocks Project Team updates.

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