About Woodbridge Riverside Trust in the Longshed

An exciting project for everyone

These are exciting times for Woodbridge Riverside Trust and for all those set to benefit from the bold vision of the Whisstocks initiative. The transformation of the derelict Whisstocks Boatyard site into a dynamic, new community facility is well underway.

This is a new era.  The land gifted to Woodbridge Town Council by the developer gives the people of Woodbridge a spectacular community space, alongside the magnificent Longshed and a purpose-built Museum for everyone to use. Forever.

Our vision

Our vision is to secure long term benefit for the community through enabling the sheer enjoyment of our outstanding maritime heritage and riverside environment, embracing learning, training and skills development.

We aim:

  • To secure long term enjoyment of our 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 Woodbridge, Sutton Hoo, the UK and beyond
  • To support the project to construct a full-scale replica of the Sutton Hoo Anglo-Saxon burial ship

One of our first actions was to set up our sister charity, the Sutton Hoo Ship’s Company to take responsibility for  planning and enabling research and funding of the construction of the world’s first full size working replica of the Sutton Hoo Anglo-Saxon ship, which dates from c.624AD. This is a project of international significance, which will draw attention to Woodbridge from all over the globe.

Alongside the ship, educational and training opportunities for anyone interested in maritime history will be developed, based not just on Anglo-Saxon times but the rich boatbuilding history of the river Deben that can be traced back over centuries.

Above all, we want to see created, with the help of everyone who wants to join in, a vibrant waterside space that is fun, dynamic, and a celebration of Woodbridge’s maritime soul.

A gift to Woodbridge

The developer, FWProperties, and Investec Bank, transferred approximately two-thirds of the former Whisstocks boat yard site to the community, including two new purpose-designed buildings. This area is owned by the Woodbridge Town Council and leased to the Woodbridge Riverside Trust (WRT) and the Woodbridge Town Museum trustees.

The community elements are:

The Longshed: A bespoke industrial-style shed measuring 5500 sq ft, with 1400 sq ft mezzanine, to be handed over to Woodbridge Town Council and WRT ready to be fitted out.

Whisstocks Place: The open area between the buildings and the river, which has been designated for public use and will be managed for the benefit of the town.

The Waterfront and slip: The site abuts the bank of the River Deben and has a water frontage spanning the whole site and an existing boat slip, which is to be renovated by the developer.

The Heritage Building: The 3000 sq ft building will house the Woodbridge Museum, which is currently located on Market Square.

The development is subject to a Section 106 Agreement, which ensures that the community components of the scheme are completed in step with the commercial and residential developments on both sites. The Boat Shed is approved with B2 use, Maritime.

Control of these facilities was handed to the WRT and the Museum Trustees under long leases.  The use of the public open space and waterfront is defined in covenants linked to the S106 agreement and designed to safeguard the maritime heritage aspects of the site in perpetuity.

What's it all for?

The Trust’s core aim is to secure benefit for the community where the land meets the water. The developers worked hard with us and the Town and District Councils to make this happen.

The first goal is to make the area into an attractive and interesting place to be, a concourse for local people and visitors to the town, which will draw more people to the riverside area. Woodbridge has a fascinating maritime tradition. This history is reflected through festivals such as the biennial Maritime Woodbridge event, which attracts over 10,000 visitors, and the autumn Shuck shellfish fair. The Longshed will continue to be the venue for these events and more.
The John Gibbins Gallery overlooking the Longshed workshop provides a fantastic, fully accessible, space for all sorts events, creative activities and exhibitions.

 

The King’s River performance in July 2017 showed the potential for the site to be used for music and dance, local schools performances, street entertainers, re-enactments, plays, food events, regional craft and overseas markets, open-air art, public celebrations, maritime events, and demonstrations of skills are just some of the activities you’ll be able to enjoy.
The new area forms a ‘Heritage Hub’ with the Woodbridge Museum, Longshed and Tide Mill adjoining the Town Quay and Granary buildings, and, downstream, the historic Bass Dock.

Beyond the ship

At the heart of the Whisstocks project is the construction of the Anglo-Saxon ship. It brings together history, Woodbridge’s boat building heritage, opportunities for training and activities everyone can join in and enjoy.   Above all, it makes a reality of the ambition to reconnect our town and river and, through the links with Sutton Hoo, our ancient past.

Using modern digital tools alongside ancient techniques, the Anglo-Saxon shipbuild project will become a living archaeological research tool. Its connection with the burial place of the original ship with all the pageantry and excitement that this can generate, will bring attention to Woodbridge and Sutton Hoo from all over the world.

Once launched, the new Sutton Hoo ship could sail to Europe and become a floating ambassador for future Longshed projects. She may bring new projects to fill her place, or Anglo-Saxon and other replica boats may follow. Alongside the construction of the ship, there will be opportunities to learn about shipbuilding and woodworking. Many of these skills can be used for shipbuilding; others will transfer easily into local industries such as furniture making (there is a furniture factory only yards from Whisstocks), eco-construction projects (saltmarsh restoration projects are underway on the Deben).

The Longshed is an ideal facility for the heritage restoration of wooden ships, both in the shed and mud berth dock alongside the slip. There is still a steady stream of wooden heritage vessels requiring work, some with charitable funding available, and this could provide an on-going source of revenue and opportunities for practical community involvement. At the same time, ancient wood-crafting skills will be researched and recreated.

As the pool of knowledge and skilled people grows, so will the Longshed’s appeal as a centre for maritime restoration and recreation. Over the course of the research and construction programme more projects using these new skills will emerge, restoring the maritime tradition of Whisstocks boatyard. The invitation from National Historic Ships for the project to join the ‘Shipshape’ network suggests that others have already seen the potential.

Alongside the replica ship project, a related programme of heritage construction and modern boat building will be offered. Starting with skiff-building, ideas include the construction of replicas of Woodbridge’s oldest boat, the Teddy – to join two others already used by young people for rowing competitions, or the building of modern rowing skiffs – much faster to build, and more competitive to row.

There are wide opportunities for learning and research, and community activities from the academic to theatrical. On this web site you will find more details of our activities. Join us, and engage with the most exciting development to hit Woodbridge for decades.

THE COMMUNITY FACILITIES

Overview

Click on any of the number buttons on the sketch above to learn about each facility.

1. The Longshed

With 5500 sq ft (510 sq m) of floor space, and a mezzanine viewing gallery running the full length of the building, the Longshed is the spectacular heart of the Whisstocks development. This space is designed to accommodate the building of a full size Anglo Saxon ship replica, as well as work on heritage boats of all kinds, and will inspire interest and involvement in our maritime history.

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2. The Museum

Woodbridge Museum has moved to a purpose-designed 3500 sq ft (332sq m) building within the Whisstocks development. It will greatly expand its learning facilities and interactive exhibits.

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3. Whisstocks Square

The boat yard’s open space has been preserved for public use. Its commitment to community use is defined in legally binding covenants controlled through the Woodbridge Town Council. Maritime heritage is the theme, but this space is open to everyone. It is your space to use how you want.

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4. The Quayside

Maritime heritage will the theme of the Whisstocks quayside and slip. The quay will offer more space for working with the Town Quay and Tide Mill and will include waterside recreation and sporting activity.

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5. Restaurant

Complementing the community theme of Whisstocks, a restaurant and bar overlooking the water are planned for the old chandlery building, while a number of retail outlets will occupy the premises below the central residential buildings.

6. Residential and Shops

This three and four storey block houses 14 residential flats, with shops and commercial premises beneath.