The Longshed and the open space

A boatshed and more

Woodbridge Riverside Trust took on the lease for the Longshed in April 2018.  Work to complete initial fitting out of the workshop space and the mezzanine gallery was completed in January 2019.

The overall cost of turning the Longshed into a place that the community can use and enjoy was over £90,000: we needed to put in lighting, office space for volunteers, flooring for the mezzanine gallery, a second staircase, a lift for disabled people, visitor toilet, and equipment for the workshop.  The images below show the transformation that has taken place.

The fitout programme was led by the WRT chairman who has a professional background in managing large building projects.  He was supported by a team of volunteers including an architect with experience of working on community projects, and people with expertise in engineering and building trades.

The cost of the work was met through generous grants and donations including donations of materials.  We want to thank:

The Nichol-Young Foundation; The Worshipful Company of Shipwrights; The Geoffrey Burton Charitable Trust; The Scarfe Charitable Trust; The Lord Belstead Charitable Trust; The Alfred Williams Trust; The John and Ruth Howard Charitable Trust; The Mary Lesley Carter Trust; The Rank Foundation; The National Lottery; Suffolk Coastal District Council; Suffolk Coasts and Heaths AONB; The River Deben Association; The Garfield Weston Foundation; Woodbridge Town Council

AkzoNobel; Bradley Building Contractors; Chapel Properties; RG Carter Construction

Julian and Sarah Royle for their appeal to Woodbridge people

The very special people who have given money so generously and anonymously

And the many volunteers who contribute time, energy and expertise to the project.


Enabling Communities Grant

The Longshed design was specified to be large enough to build a full-size reconstruction of the Sutton Hoo ship – measuring 27m. Space below the  gallery will be used for smaller boat-building projects alongside the Anglo-Saxon ship reconstruction.

Visitor access to the John Gibbins Gallery is  via stairs beside the front entrance to the ground floor of the shed and a lift. The gallery will provide opportunities to explore ideas, try things out and find out about boats and boat-building, local maritime heritage and the people who lived and worked on the River Deben.

The complementary functions of the gallery and the workshop provide a unique opportunity for visitors to find out about Anglo-Saxon times and the environment in which the ship was used and also to see in practice how it was constructed.

Digital image showing what the workshop and viewing gallery might be like with the Anglo-Saxon ship in the Longshed


Technical details

The Boatshed is a steel-framed portal type structure with profiled insulated roof and walls. It is being handed over as a “shell” building.  The Trust is responsible for installing the electrics (lighting, power for tools, heating), public access stairs to the mezzanine,  a mess room/office on the ground floor and two offices on the mezzanine floor for supervisors and volunteers. The slip has been restored, by the developer.

The internal dimensions are 32m deep and width varying from 19metres at to 15m . Minimum head height in the ‘Ship’ area is 4metres.

For technical information on the Waterfront Community Longshed, contact Bryan Knibbs:


Activities: something for everyone

Providing opportunities to try things out and explore ideas is at the core of the WRT Longshed project. The aim is to engage people in developing a sense of place; understanding the maritime significance of Woodbridge in the wider world, and how it has evolved. The photos below show some of the activities that have been going on since the Longshed opened. (see the gallery at the bottom for bigger images).

Proposals for the quay and access to the river

The Longshed is linked via the open public space, known as Whisstocks Place, to the waterfront. Whisstocks Place is owned and managed by Woodbridge Town Council. It is open to public access at all times, and by arrangement with the Town Council, for the organisation of events of all kinds as set out in the site covenants.

The intention of the Woodbridge Town Council is to lease the quayside and slip, to be managed together with the town quay (alongside the Tide Mill). In addition, it is dedicated to keeping the waterfront quayside in character with its maritime heritage.  The aim is to encourage the use of the quay by traditional boats to retain the heritage look of quayside.

The slipway has been renovated by the developer.  It is owned by the Crown Estates and will be leased to Woodbridge Town Council.

Years ago, a rowed ferry connected the quayside with the foreshore on the Sutton Hoo side of the river.  Ideas to start up a new cross river ferry in cooperation with private operators are under discussion.

The Sutton ferry ran from Whisstocks to the Sutton shore

Other ideas are also under discussion, including links with local pleasure trip operators, and the organisers of barge ad other traditional craft charters.