Alan Staley, Boatbuilder at Chambers Wharf, recently won the Craft Skills Award for ‘Encouraging Craft Skills in the Workplace.
Go to: http://ccskills.org.uk/news/story/craft-skills-awards-winners-announced, and watch the video, Alan and his staff star at 3minutes along.
It is interesting to simply summarise the recent past, the current, and the developing crafts and skills presence on the Creek;
Ironwharf supports several self-employed boatbuilders, and a Chandlery, and accommodates large craft, including Thames Barges, alongside the Quay and in their floating dock for repair.
Chambers Wharf is Alan Staley Boatbuilder, with a slip and moorings for small to medium sized craft, and a history of successful projects.; more on that later.
Standard Quay, over a period of 18 years, up to 2011, supported up to 10 craftsmen, several of whom were Shipwrights, and included a nascent apprentice scheme, a Block Maker, a complete £m1.4 restoration of a historic craft, but more importantly, developed a supportive management style and resources, that attracted large traditional craft to the Quay, for berthing and maintenance.
Swan Quay has been the home of the Sail Maker, Wilkinson Sails for several years, where they have trained 2 young sailmakers,.
Faversham Creek Trust is developing a maritime Craft Centre at the Purifier, with a specific mandate to develop the training of Apprentices Shipwrights, starting in August.
Another important near-creek success story is Creek Creative, maybe not maritime, but certainly craft and small business oriented and supportive.
And yet, some commentators have recently argued that there was a lack of maritime businesses rushing to take up the available spaces on the Creek, and that therefore the only viable way forward is for these spaces to be given over to speculators and developers of upmarket exclusive housing, or to converting simple sheds in to bijou restaurants, or worse, museums of past maritime glory for the titilation of tourists.
Wrong; if we ignore the history of success above, by failing to build on it and create the waterside space needed for its future, then we must all carry the blame in the years to come. What is needed now for the success of that future, is the time to develop small businesses, supported by an infrastructure of affordable space and a network of complementary crafts and businesses; that is what hubs are all about.
That is sustainability. That is what the Presumption in Favour of Sustainable Development quoted in the National Planning Policy Framework is all about. It is certainly not about banging up a few more houses on every available tired industrial site, extracting some small penalty, or is it a bribe, ostensibly for the benefit of the community, which will disappear into some distant pot.
Amongst the site owners, are long standing businesses that have prospered in Faversham, but who, due to changes in the commercial opportunities, have been left with sites that need reviving; they are not developers themselves, and generally have been in no hurry to sell off to speculators. It is to these owners that we should turn, in humility, and ask for their support for the future of the Creek as a thriving busy waterway, with relevant businesses, and community areas.
As Arthur reminds us, Henry Hatch gave his fortune to the benefit of the Town and Creek; we must make sure that we can build on that legacy.