Century-old church pews, school science benches and even wood previously salvaged from a shipwreck – she might be new, but there is plenty of history in Amble’s second skiff.
Proud members of the town’s Coastal Rowing Club launched the boat, Coquet Venture, on Easter Saturday. It was an emotional moment. After a year of hard graft building her, the volunteers saw their smart-looking vessel carried into the water for the first time at the Little Shore.
"She floats!" shouted one member, as the crowd on the beach applauded and gave three cheers.
It was the skiff's first adventure, with many more to come! Although, Coquet Venture already has many stories from the past to tell. As club member Bryan Miller said: "There really has been an amazing amount of history worked into the making of this boat."
Take the twarts (seats) and floor boards for example. They were previously pews, believed to date back to 1870, from Amble’s St Cuthbert’s Parish Church.
"There is a lot of soul in this," said Bryan. "When you think how much of Amble has touched that wood over the years, with mothers, fathers, grandparents all sitting on those seats in the church – it really is a big emotional investment."
It doesn’t stop there. The gunwales are made from bits of school science benches, while other parts of the skiff are constructed from a dining table which was constructed from a shipwreck salvaged during the war and a segment of old fireplace. This boat is well and truly made in Amble, and as Bryan adds, 'a lesson to never throw out good timber!'
Coquet Venture is the club’s latest skiff, after the 2014 launch of Coquet Spirit – which also featured on More Tales from Northumberland with Robson Green.
Saturday was Coquet Venture’s turn to be launched. From outside the Seafood Centre at the Harbour Village, the skiff was towed to the Little Shore in a parade led by Northumberland piper Beverley Palin, with a crowd of well-wishers following. At the beach, Coquet Venture was blessed by Rev Diane Westmoreland and Rev Lynda Coulthard and anointed with Alnwick Rum and water from the Sea of Galilee. She was then carried out into the water and tested, joined by Coquet Spirit and the skiff from Alnmouth. The blessing wreath was laid at the harbour mouth.
Bryan said: "This was the end of a year’s journey building our second skiff and there were about 100 people on the beach to watch us launch her. We spent a lot of time on her – we give up counting the amount of man-hours. She floats, she’s pretty and she’s beautiful to row."
It was a community effort and the rowing club is going from strength to strength, with around 40 members.
Bryan said: "You can race the skiffs, row them recreationally or go to meetings and meet other clubs. Our youngest member is about 14 and we have women in their 80s rowing. If you can do something that revives a traditional craft, build boats in Amble and get people of all ages out on the sea, it can’t be a bad thing."
For more details, visit the Rowing Club's website.