The Longshed, Fiction and Fact


You may well be aware of recently publicity with rather dramatic headlines about the Ship build in The Longshed. The truth of the matter is a little more prosaic than those headlines suggest and, in our view, entirely resolvable.

                               The attached press release sets out the facts.

We would add that:

-The Sutton Hoo Ship’s Company still have the option of applying for
renewal of the space agreement that expires in July. It is up to them.
-The Sutton Hoo Ship’s Company do not pay an annual fee, but do pay a
monthly contribution towards the running costs of The Longshed.
-A point of clarification: 40% of the building equates to 53% of
ground floor space to build the Ship.


The Woodbridge Town Council owns The Longshed in Woodbridge. Woodbridge Riverside
Trust holds the 35 year lease for The Longshed. We are proud of the fabulous project run by
Sutton Hoo Ship’s Company (SHSC) to rebuild the Sutton Hoo Burial Ship in The Longshed.
We know of no other Council in the country who has backed the development of a
community building large enough to enable such a project to be built. As it has become
more successful, it has drawn people to Woodbridge from far and wide. We admire and
support the way that the project has been researched, designed, and is now being constructed.                                                                                                               

Lately, it has become more apparent that SHSC desire more space, particularly to build
oars; while those could be built elsewhere, it might be of more interest to the public – and
easier for SHSC to manage, if they were built on site. Possibilities are currently being
discussed between the Town Council and WRT.
While we support their project, what we don’t admire is the misinformation being spread
about the work of the Town Council and of Woodbridge Riverside Trust, and this needs to stop.

The facts:
 WRT and the Town Council agreed a repair and maintenance lease starting in 2018.
Rent was set at £1 per year; WRT to pay for all costs to fit out the building, create the
workshop, improve the Gallery, and then improve/maintain the building. So far, circa
£150,000 has been raised and spent by WRT on The Longshed, in addition to every
day running costs.
A restriction was made by the Town Council allowing the “Associated Party” (named
as the SHSC) 40% of the building (which was probably considered sufficient at that
time) and for a maximum of 10 years, with no possibility of extension.
The 40% equates with the main ground floor areas where the Ship is being built.
Two of the WRT Trustees at the time of the Lease later moved to become a Trustee
of SHSC. One of them also remained a Trustee of WRT, and was actively involved
with the lawyers negotiating the Lease. The terms of the Lease are well known to SHSC.

 SHSC operates under a de facto License with WRT (i.e. at their permission). They
have no legal standing in The Longshed.
All parties operating within The Longshed have to comply with terms of the Lease.

 When SHSC was needing more ground floor space to work, a side-letter with the
Town Council was agreed allowing them 75% of that space (which equates with 56%
of the building). This is valid for 3 years, expiring 13 July 2024.
SHSC have been reminded in writing several times since January of the need to
apply to renew this provision – otherwise the agreed terms are that the SHSC
element will revert back to only 40% of the building. SHSC have chosen not to apply. Any reduction that takes place from 14th July will be of their own making

 Earlier this year, SHSC wrote to the planning authorities alleging that WRT were not
complying with planning permission. An Enforcement Officer visited the site, and did
not find reason to enforce anything.

 WRT’s monthly costs average around £6000 per month. This covers all the utilities,
maintenance, and improvements of the building, education programmes, and care of
the half-length ship Sae Wylfing (on permanent loan from the Gifford family).
The contribution agreed for SHSC to pay for the past 3 years is £1,400 per month.
The rest is raised through donations, exhibitions, the occasional hiring of the Gallery,
and sales in the WRT Shop (which features local artists, photographers,
woodworkers, etc plus goods showing the Tapestries).

 The Gallery is a public space and can be used as a wonderful viewing platform for
the Ship. Although it is hired out for exclusive use occasionally and predominately
for those with maritime connections (to help pay costs of the building), it is usually
available for the public to access to view the Ship’s interior.
On Gallery walls are the King’s River Tapestries, which is a wonderful collection
depicting the Sutton Hoo story created by local people. The Longshed is their
permanent home. They are registered with the National Needlework Archive.
WRT has assured the SHSC that The Gallery is a public free-of-charge space. Their
stewards, and the general public are welcome into the Gallery except on the few
occasions of it being hired out/booked for a specific use. The response received
from Sean McMillan (Chair of SHSC) was that they must have access for their
visitors to The Gallery at all times. If they couldn’t have it all the time, this was
not acceptable.

 Education programmes feature strongly for WRT. Since Covid, by the end of next
week’s programme, over 1000 Suffolk school children will have taken part in their
active “hands-on” programme based around the Anglo-Saxon curriculum; SHSC
participated in all but the last 2 programmes

Woodbridge Riverside Trust actively want the SHSC project to succeed, and for the Ship to
be built in and launched from The Longshed.
If SHSC decide to lose some of the current space they have (from 14 th July) by not applying
to WRT to facilitate the renewal of the side-letter with The Town Council, that is their choice.
It will be of their doing, and not the doing of others.

Tags: Blog, Events, News

3 Comments. Leave new

  • Terry Basson
    18/06/2024 07:53

    Seems by reading this that it is a matter that can be secured if SHSC applies to renew their lease to gain extra space . What it does not make clear is the why SHSC is holding back applying ! Perhaps you can throw some light on why the tenants are so reluctant to extend roll on beyond 14th July 2024?

  • Terry Basson
    18/06/2024 07:54

    Seems by reading this that it is a matter that can be secured if SHSC applies to renew their lease to gain extra space . What it does not make clear is the why SHSC is holding back applying ! Perhaps you can throw some light on why the tenants are so reluctant to extend roll on beyond 14th July 2024 deadline.

  • Ann Llewellyn
    18/06/2024 19:38

    It is a shame that SHSC do not want other community groups to use the hall upstairs. I do not think that it is used all the time and understand it might be frustrating for people dropping in not to be able to see the tapestries but hopefully they will return. Maybe a calendar on the website telling people when the hall is empty? SHSC should pay for that access too as there are significant costs associated with the Longshed.


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