Whitstable Maritime

Celebrating our Coastal Communities

Whitstable Maritime was formed in 2014 and registered as a Charity (1171563) and a Company Listed by Guarantee (09017635) in 2015.

Activities have focussed on four inter-related outcomes: celebrating Whitstable’s maritime heritage (including restoration of the last Whitstable Oyster Yawl built on Island Wall); supporting the town’s coastal economic development (including an annual Harbour & Boat Show); addressing marine environment issues; and encouraging well-being (including a 5K Coastal Trail).

Whitstable Maritime

Editorial

May 2024

On Sunday mornings I am in the habit of walking along the seafront to purchase one of the national papers. I may meet a runner or dog walker but otherwise it is a silent world unless an Oyster Company tractor is struggling through the mud on the sea-bed. Generations of Whitstable families have earnt a precarious living on the water, fishing or dredging, occasionally diving, or trading up the East Coast. Other folk built and repaired their craft and there is evidence of at least six former boatyards along the seafront of Island Wall. Today the yards are silent. The community of boat-builders has been dispersed, the archaeological evidence of their former presence has been obliterated by sea defences and housing. Craft skills, such as those of the shipwright, sail-maker, rigger and block-maker, are now listed as endangered occupations. However we have the 25-inch to the mile, 1906 Ordnance Survey map, and a few historical photographs to help the keen observer interpret what little remains; and the iconic Whitstable Oyster Yawl being restored on the East Quay will be a living experience of our maritime heritage.

Sue King at Faversham Market

Faversham. Faversham also has a history of wooden boat building despite having a meandering tidal creek. Before entering the Swale, the creek is joined by the Oare and it is here on the mud-bank that Gamecock was lying before being rescued by our Charity. A local artist, Sue King, has been inspired by the story of Gamecock’s restoration. Today, using a variety of styles, Sue produces paintings of the Gamecock which she sells to help fund the restoration work. She can be found at Saturday’s market in Faversham or contacted via her website: https://www.suekingart.com/. At present our Coastal Trail only extends to Seasalter but is proving very popular with visitors and residents thanks to an upgrade by our resident photographer, Alex Hare: you can download a copy from this website.

Dunkirk. Our Chair, Susannah Gooch (see News & Views), led a presentation to a meeting of the Dunkirk Parish Council which was well received. The Charity has strong links with the community as a Council Member, Daniel Brice of Timber Tasks, has been our ‘go-to’ timber merchant since we experienced difficulties in purchasing timber of the right specification. Dan was able to successfully search the woods of Kent for trees from which he could cut and dry planks that had the curved grain required by the Shipwright for the new frame on the Yawl. 

The Chair presenting to Whitstable Yacht Club. Photograph Alex Hare, Whitstable Photographic Company

Another presentation was given to Whitstable Yacht Club that has a shared history with the Island Wall boat-builders. The owners of the yards built and raced their large wooden yaughts in the Swale before deciding to form a Club. Please use the Contact form on this website if you would like the Charity to present a bespoked presentation for your organisation. 

University of Kent. Susannah has also initiated our engagement in a MA course in Business Studies at Kent University for mature students who have had a minimum of 5 years experience in commerce or industry. Whitstable Maritime was one of three case studies in which the students were invited to identify beneficial applications of Artificial Intelligence. Both the Charity and the University were pleased with the outcome and it is likely there will be a similar exercise focussing on marketing. Increasingly the Charity is using Facebook WhitstableMaritime and Instagram Whitstable_Maritime for communicating and fund-raising.  

Canterbury. A partnership between the Charity and the Foundry Brewery in Canterbury has resulted in a superbly balanced rum produced by the family firm using traditional, manual, methods of brewing.  For two years it has been aging at 58% in a 190 litre cask previously used for a bourbon, and is now in a specially purchased rare 

Virgin English Oak barrel. The ‘Gamecock Premium Rum’ is a tribute to the craft skills of the Brewer, the Cooper, and the Shipwright, and has been inspired by our iconic 1906 Oyster Yawl. The launch is a ticketed event on Thursday 18 July at The Foundry Brewery with £5 being donated to the restoration of the Gamecock. Starting at 7.30pm, the evening includes presentations on the Rum and the Gamecock, a demonstration of Shipwright skills, and a tasting of the rum and a new whisky, with generous ‘Foundry nibbles’. A night to remember! 

The Charity is very fortunate in that it has been able to attract a loyal group of able volunteers and partner organisations. Clearly, the Charity has great potential to benefit the local community, whether it be through offering sail training, boosting the local economy, retaining craft skills, protecting the marine environment, celebrating our maritime heritage, or stimulating artistic endeavour. With your support all of these desirable outcomes are achievable. Please use the Donate button if you are able to support financially, or turn to the Contact page if you are interested in becoming a Partner organisation or are able to Volunteer your time and skills. Thank you. Enjoy your visit to our site!

Gordon, President

Whitstable Maritime Partnership 2024

We are grateful to our partners for their support in fair winds and calms.

The Gamecock Restoration - A Second Life

How many of us have the opportunity of extending our working life by 60/80 years?

Whitstable Coastal Trail

A unique 5km trail exploring Whitstable’s heritage and coastline.