Keeping History Afloat/Skills for the Future - Phase 2

This project has now finished.  Please see below for details on how it was managed, the individual trainees and what was achieved during the scheme.

A second group of trainees has started work at the National Waterways Museum's Heritage Boatyard in Ellesmere Port, ensuring that specialist boat building skills are kept alive.

The trainees are working at the Canal & River Trust's museum as part of the Keeping History Afloat project, a Heritage Lottery Skills for the Future project run by the Trust working closely with National Historic Ships UK.

The trainees are supported by £100,600 of lottery funding, bringing the total funding for the project to £210,800.

The Heritage Boatyard is a project working with a range of partners and funders that aims to preserve traditional boat building skills relating to inland waterways craft and pass on these skills to a new generation.

The Boatyard is working to restore and maintain the museum's collection of historic craft and in time develop into a commercial restoration boatyard.

Watch this short clip showing the experience of the three trainees in Phase 2, as they develop their traditional boat-building skills and what they hope to achieve from the training.

December 2014 - KHA Evaluation Report

As the project draws to its close, an Evaluation Report has been prepared by consultant David Tournay of Evolution Partnership covering both phases of the four-year scheme.  It looks at lessons learned over this period, the effectiveness of the project and also makes recommendations for the future to ensure a lasting legacy. 

Download the full report here.

September 2014 - Networking Day

As the second group of trainees conclude their placements at the Heritage Boatyard, a celebratory Networking Day was organised for 25 September.   The programme included a debate on the future sustainability of historic vessels in the UK, chaired by Martyn Heighton, director NHS-UK.  The Networking Day saw a number of attendees from the maritime world, including representatives from boatbuilding firms, training institutions and vessel owning groups and gave the trainees an opportunity to showcase their work to the sector.  Download the KHA Newsletter which was circulated at the Networking Day to read more.

 June 2014 - Trainee update

The three trainees went on a short placement to Windermere Steamboat Museum to learn about a different type of collection and receive additional training in conservation planning and practice.  They worked alongside the Conservation Workshop Manager, Adrian Stone learning about the Museum's unique collection of historic lake vessels and were also given the chance to raise steam and handle a historic launch.

May 2014 - Consultant required for Project Evaluation

Consultants have been invited to tender for evaluating the Keeping History Afloat project. 

Experience required:

  • evaluation reporting in a project environment, ideally within maritime/industrial conservation context
  • data gathering / evaluation work on HLF or other grant aided projects
  • An understanding of the principles of maritime/industrial conservation and the existing skills base in the sector would be an advantage.

See the evaluation brief for more details.

Closing date to submit tenders is Friday, 23 May 2014 at midday.

January 2014 - REPEAT BBC R4 'Open Country' broadcast featuring Keeping History Afloat trainees 
(see October 2013 news item below)

Felicity Evans travels along the backwaters of the Shropshire Union Canal meeting people who've adopted a new area as their own.

Starting out near Beeston she joins Wirral Autistic Society who have adopted a 2 mile stretch of the canal, which they've used regularly, to maintain its upkeep. She sets to work and finds out how it's changed how they feel about the area.

Along the way she helps monitor the hedgerows which were introduced when the canals were created to stop stock entering the waterways. Now many sections are in poor condition but they need to be improved to help a rare moth which has adopted it as its own.

Travelling on to Ellesmere Port and the National Waterways Museum finds out who still use the canals and how a new generation are learning the traditional skills to rebuild and restore heritage boats.

Listen to the broadcast here

January 2014 - Repairs for historic vessel at museum

Work can get underway on a historic working boat and youngsters can learn valuable boat repair skills for the future with the help of an £800 donation towards the project.

Members of the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) Chester & Merseyside branch say they are delighted to make the donation towards the repair work which will be carried out at the National Waterways Museum's heritage boatyard by trainees on Keeping History Afloat and Boat Museum Society volunteers.

The narrowboat, Ferret, is said to have been a star performer at the museum enabling youngsters in particular to experience what life might have been like in the tiny boatman's cabin. The vessel was built by Yarwoods of Northwich for carriers Fellows, Morton & Clayton, and she regularly carried cargoes to Runcorn and Ellesmere Port before she was sold in 1964 to the Clark family, who are members of the IWA.

Ferret towed unpowered narrowboats, known as butties, and is paired with one named Ilkeston at the museum.

Item taken from the Chester Chronicle, Jan 14.
Image L-R: Mike Turpin (Boat Museum Society), Dave Linney (Heritage Boatyard supervisor), John Inch (National Waterways Museum manager), Mike Carter (IWA Chester & Merseyside).

October 2013 - Trainees visit Southampton

A 3 day visit, primarily for The Worshipful Company of Shipwrights' October lecture for marine apprentices, the trainees took the opportuniy to visit four historic vessels and a conservation boatyard. Read about the conservation projects they connected with here and trainee Millie's account of the trip.

October 2013 - BBC Radio 4 visit Heritage Boatyard

The Heritage Boatyard Trainees were recently interviewed by Felicity Evans from Radio 4's ‘Open Country’ as they showed her round the Heritage Boatyard and gave her an insight into its role at the museum.
The programme is expected to be broadcast on Thursday 12th December with a repeat on Saturday 14th December 2013. See photos

August 2013 - Training

The three trainees are joining Canal & River Trust staff for mandatory training in line with the Trust’s minimum safety learning standards.  

The trainees attended a Risk Assessment session on Monday 12 Aug (for information purposes only) and are attending Basic Fire, Water and Save a Life on Wednesday 14 Aug. This course includes emergency First Aid.  They are booked on the Health & Safety Foundation Course for 3 Sep.

Trainee Dawn will be completing her Certificate in Community Boat Management (CCBM) on 8-9 Oct.

July 2013 - Photoshoot for the Sunday Express

Here are some of the photos following a shoot for a feature about Ellesmere Port in the Sunday Express.


Taken by professional photographer, Colin McPherson, please note these images are not for publication by any other external organisation or business.

June 2013 - Welcoming the three new trainees in the Heritage Boatyard

The three trainees, Alex, Dawn and Millie (photographed front left to right) all have a great interest in canal boats, even owning several between them.

Alex is a familiar face at the museum having volunteered here for over 2 years and being an active member of the Boat Activity Group. Alex joins us as he is completing a Level 2 NVQ in Engineering at West Cheshire College and already owns 2 boats for his own, Bewitched and Jester.

Dawn has also been a regular visitor at the Museum and heard about the trainee placements during the Easter Boat Gathering. She has previously run a boat fitting company, is chairperson of the Young Waterways and Boating Society and also has her own boat, Canis Major, a BCN Tug.

Millie is new to the area and is looking forward to the challenges of working in the boatyard. She has recently restored Kishti, a 56 ft Swanline and with her father being an engineer has been welding since the age of 9.


PRESS RELEASE Issued 14 June 2013

See our Keeping History Afloat Project Page for more information, background and details of the project prior to Phase 2

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