Sponsors needed for budding boatbuilders

02 April 2015

Sponsors needed for budding boatbuilders


Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust (PNBPT) in partnership with the International Boatbuilding Training College Portsmouth (IBTCP), Highbury College and Ampersand Catering are seeking sponsors to help change the lives of unemployed young people in Portsmouth.

In July 2015 the new Boatbuilding & Heritage Skills Training Centre will open at Boathouse 4 in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) will part-fund 13 bursary places on boatbuilding training courses over the next two years, but additional sponsorship of £4,200 is needed for each young person.

Bursary students are not required have any experience in boatbuilding, or even in woodwork, to enroll - it is enthusiasm and commitment that counts, and an initial three-week probation period will be used to assess the trainee’s commitment and motivation to learn.

The 47-week intensive courses in traditional wooden boatbuilding and related skills will be delivered by IBTCP In partnership with Beaulieu Estates, owners of the historic shipbuilding village at Bucklers Hard. The historic Boathouse 4 will be transformed into an environment similar to a commercially operated boatyard, fully fitted out for educational purposes, boatbuilding and boat repair, with cranage, engineering, joinery, welding and varnishing workshops all providing students with practical work experience.

On graduation, successful students will be awarded a City & Guilds 2463-Level 3 Diploma in Marine Construction, Systems Engineering and Maintenance, which is internationally recognised in the boatbuilding industry. Students will also achieve the IBTCP Diploma, and IBTCP is currently working with National Historic Ships to establish a Conservation of Historic Vessels module as an additional BTEC qualification.

Graduates of IBTCP will be well qualified to pursue a wide variety of further educational and career opportunities beyond traditional boatbuilding, such as fitting out yachts, conservation of historic vessels, or set up their own joinery/carpentry business.

Peter Goodship, Consultant Chief Executive of PNBPT said ‘There is an acknowledged lack of qualified people in the wooden boatbuilding industry and we hope that some bursary graduates will join a future workforce helping to maintain and restore some of the country’s most famous wooden ships, maybe even HMS Victory herself’.

Benefits of sponsorship

  • Helping to give a young unemployed person a skill for life.
  • Support for materials and specialist tools, which the trainee can keep upon graduation.
  • Sponsors may choose to sponsor a specific individual, who they can meet personally and receive regular updates on their progress.
  • All company and individual sponsors’ names will be recognised in the main reception area of the restored Boathouse 4 (unless otherwise requested).
  • The sponsorship cost can be spread over two years.
  • Invitation to tour Boathouse 4 and meet Nat Wilson, IBTCP’s CEO and his team.


What will the trainees do?

Gill Wilson of IBTC Portsmouth said: “As far as the breadth and standard of skills go, you’d be hard pressed to find a woodworking trade more comprehensive in its scope than boatbuilding. Potential employers favour our course model, which gives the student a much broader range of experience than a single build, and also covers repair and restoration techniques which cannot be taught on a new vessel.”

Activities include working on and experience with ships from nine feet to 71 feet; from canoes and dinghies to sailing yachts and motor yachts; clinker, carvel, cold mould, strip plank and epoxy sheathed hulls; steamed, sawn and laminated frames; teak and sheathed decks; ‘fitting out’ in solid hardwood to cabinetmaker standards; keel bolts, stern tubes, skin fittings, cleats, winches and chain plates; skylights, hatches, self-draining cockpits and engine boxes; hollow masts, booms and bowsprits; working from plans or taking the lines, lofting, and lifting mould and patterns; painting, varnishing, splicing - and more!

Students will also spend two two-week periods during the year at Buckler’s Hard, where they will work on much larger timbers and learn techniques used in the 18th Century, which will give them an understanding of how ships like the Mary Rose were built.

They will also have access to the standing timber on the Beaulieu Estate, which was planted as far back as the 17th century to provide the wood to build England’s Navy, and will learn about timber growth, felling, conversion, storage and handling.

And finally, here’s what Paul Langham, a Graduate of IBTC Lowestoft, said about his boatbuilding course:

“I now have real hand skills and a good understanding of traditional boat construction, and a thirst to learn a whole lot more.”

If you are interested in giving a young person a future by sponsoring him or her on a full year’s course in traditional boatbuilding, please call Abi Isherwood on 023 9289 3321 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.