Sheringham Museum  


Boat Building

Boat buildingNearly two hundred years ago, a Sheringham carpenter agreed to build a boat for a local fisherman. It was such a good boat that he was asked to build more, and soon Sheringham had a thriving boat-building community, with several builders providing boats for fishermen along the coast. Can you imagine what it was like to build a wooden boat 100 years ago? There were no electric tools so every piece of wood had to be cut and shaped by hand. Sheringham had two boatyards, but we’re going to explore the Emery Boatyard.

Fishermen in Sheringham often had nicknames and it was Lewis ‘Bull’ Emery that set up the Emery boatyard. He was called ‘Bull’ because he was very strong. Along with his sons he built the Henry Ramey Upcher lifeboat as well as many fishing boats. Here we see them at work.

building the Henry Ramey Upcher


The Emery boatshed as it was This is the Emery boatbuilding shed as it was. It faces onto Lifeboat Plain in Sheringham - just across from the Museum.

If you look carefully you will see the end of a boat peeking out of the top level of the shed; they could build two at once! But how did they get the boats, especially the top one, into the sea? That's a puzzle for you detectives to solve.

The Emery boatshed now


The building is still there, on Lifeboat Plain. What do you think it might be used for today? Next time you are at the Museum, perhaps you can find out!

The boatbuilders used different types of wood like oak and larch. It would take boatbuilders about six months to build a boat like the Enterprise. Three men would work on a boat, laying the keel first of all and then adding the stem and stern posts. They would then put on the planking which was steamed to shape and then the ribs of the boat were added, fixed in with copper nails. Boats were painted on the outside and tarred inside to make them watertight.

There were no power tools, of course, but the old boatbuilders crafted beautiful results with a variety of hand tools and, of course, a lot of skill.


Activity - Draw a Boat

Here are some old photographs of boats built in Sheringham. See if you can draw a boat like one of these and give it a great name!.

east beach
whelk boat