The Future of the Shetland Boat

The St Sunniva lifeboat heads for it's new home enlarge The St Sunniva lifeboat heads for it's new home The Shetland Museum small open boat collection now has a new home, with purpose built, indoor storage and workshop space to ensure the precious, original craft are kept safe from the elements. The workshop attached to the store, in conjunction with the Boatshed at Shetland Museum and Archives gives the Museum Service enough capacity and facilities to store, maintain, and restore, the existing small boat collection.

The store was built with grant funding from the Coastal Communities Fund and funding from Shetland Amenity Trust to provide more a more efficient storage solution for the collection and to safeguard the Shetland Boat heritage.

The funding also provides a platform for the boatbuilding apprenticeship scheme. The accredited three-year course, dedicated to teaching boatbuilding skills to build a Shetland model boat will be an SQA approved combination of classroom and practical based learning.

This is a particularly exciting scheme for those with a nautical interest, as it is the first haaf boat building apprenticeship scheme which has been available in nearly half a century, the last being in the 1960’s. Jimmy Moncrieff, General Manager of Shetland Amenity Trust, said “It is important not only to safeguard these boats, but also to ensure the survival of the skills and knowledge required to build them.”

The small boats were recently redistributed from remote storage to the new store and the Museum Boatshed. They comprised traditional craft, mostly fourareens, two ship’s lifeboats, and a yacht. Many of the boats have been restored over the last five years and these include Ann LK 126, Brothers LK 96, and Rose LK 354.

Ann LK126 is placed in the new store enlarge Ann LK126 is placed in the new store With the provision of appropriate storage, and the progression of the boatbuilding apprenticeship, along with the Lerwick Port Authority funded Boatbuilding PhD being undertaken by Marc Chivers, the future of the Shetland Boat is looking bright. The Museum Service can now facilitate better public access to the boats in the collection, with plans in an early stage for an annual celebration of the Shetland Boat; including open days at the store, classes in rope making and presentations from nationally important maritime organisations.