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A Lake District boatbuilder keeping the tradition of schooners afloat

PUBLISHED: 00:00 26 January 2017

Windermere Launch onto the water

Windermere Launch onto the water

Archant

A beautiful new launch is making waves on Windermere and in the boating community. Photography by Milton Haworth.

The trading schooner Emily Barratt survived two wars but ended up being chopped into piecesThe trading schooner Emily Barratt survived two wars but ended up being chopped into pieces

HAMISH Patterson’s first love was Emily Barratt, not a childhood sweetheart but a glorious old Millom schooner.

The youngster spent most of his early years on the vessel, which was owned by his father, George, a boatbuilder in the Lakeland village of Hawkshead.

The Emily Barratt, the last merchant trading schooner to be built in England, was launched in 1913. George bought her in 1983 when Hamish was just four. He had planned to restore the schooner to her original rig and use her as a training boat, but George’s personal circumtances meant that wasn’t possible.

Instead, it was purchased by a maritime museum which planned to restore her. Tragically, a few years later Emily Barratt was cut into pieces and scrapped.

One of the new launches is called the Emily B in  memory of his first love, the Emily BarrattOne of the new launches is called the Emily B in memory of his first love, the Emily Barratt

‘The Emily Barratt was a huge part of my life,’ said Hamish. ‘I was and always will be devastated that our family entrusted that she would be restored to her former glory. Instead this grand old lady of the sea was dismissed and cut into pieces.

‘She served in two world wars (during the Second World War the ship was a floating anchorage for a barrage balloon) and took to the water beautifully.’

It’s clear the experience scarred Hamish and drove his desire to become a boatbuilder with a strong sense of tradition. ‘Ever since I was a young lad I always knew that I’d be a boat builder – I wanted to ensure all crafts in the care of my hands, whether they were restorations or new builds, would be treated with an understanding of historic and cultural heritage.’

With this eye on the past and a determination to provide quality vessels for future generations, Hamish and the team at Patterson Boatworks in the old Lancashire village of Hawkshead have conceived and built a beatiful new open launch range called ‘The Windermere Launch’. This contemporary take on a classic style of boat has created considerable interest among enthusiasts.

Hamish in the Hawkshead workshop which combines tradition skills with modern technologyHamish in the Hawkshead workshop which combines tradition skills with modern technology

Hamish, a time-served, qualified boat builder drew inspiration from the Edwardian steam launch ‘Bat’ built by Brockbank of Windermere in 1891 and designed by her owner, Alfred Sladen. In 1904 she was used by Isaac Story and Jack Kitchen to conduct the first experiments in radio control on Lake Windermere. Bat was found derelict in Bowness in 1966, but she had a happier ending that The Emily Barratt – she was rescued and rebuilt and is now in the Windermere Steamboat Museum.

Boat building is a traditional skill which has been handed down through generations. Hamish’s father was a boat builder and many of the skills he has today were taught to him by his dad. Hamish went to boat building college to broaden his knowledge about this traditional trade and gain further skills.

Craftsmen like Hamish are not only important to the historic environment but also to the preservation of the traditional boat building skills themselves. He is a firm believer in historic preservation and conservation of our heritage, which is why he employs the techniques he uses today.

While he is a boat builder of a traditional trade, he uses the best of today’s technologies married with traditional timbers and materials. Patterson Boatworks combine their knowledge of historic preservation, materials and architecture to create beautiful craft.

The Windermere Launch is generating a lot of interestThe Windermere Launch is generating a lot of interest

‘We are eager to show how traditional methods can be used with modern technologies to create the perfect boat,’ added Hamish. ‘For the decks on the Windermere Launch, we use local Douglas Fir from nearby Graythwaite Sawmill, English Oak and e-glass fabrics for the hull. Inlays and fittings are stainless steel, giving the launch a beautifully modern yet classic feel.’

It is a roomy day boat for up to 12 passengers and capable of cruising at 10mph. ‘This opens up a world to boating enthusiasts. The Windermere Launch creates the perfect setting for get-togethers, whether out on the water or simply moored up,’ he said. ‘It is the ideal boat for easy cruising with family friends. It’s also ideal for hoteliers wanting to offer guests memorable stays that will create moments of pleasure and lasting memories.’ It comes in three sizes between 25 and 30 feet.

Traditional boat building is said to be a dying art. It is comforting to know that Hamish and his team are keeping it very much alive in the Lakes.

For more information go to www.pattersonboatworks.co.uk

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