3 ISSUES FOR JUST £3 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

Traditional boatbuilding in Skippool Creek

PUBLISHED: 00:00 06 September 2017 | UPDATED: 09:42 06 September 2017

Everything seems shipshape

Everything seems shipshape

glynn ward

Beautiful boats like The Polly are still being built the old fashioned way on the river Wyre, writes Paul Mackenzie

The Polly is ready for serviceThe Polly is ready for service

Little has changed at Skippool Creek for centuries. Tranquil farmland rolls down to the banks of the river Wyre where boats gently bob on the tide. And while David Moss’s boat yard is relatively new, the boats he builds and restores there are almost as traditional as the timeless landscape.

Boat yards like this were once a staple part of towns and villages along the Lancashire coast. Although most have now gone, David is preserving the traditional craft of building wooden boats.

David, who is originally from Formby, grew up around boats – his father worked for the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board legal department and an uncle, who worked for a shipping line, would take him aboard ships docked on the river.

‘When I left school I had thought about the merchant navy but my dad put me off and when I said I was going into wooden boat building he said that was a dead-end job,’ he recalled.

The launch team: Brian Nicholson, Mike Dickens, Mike Wilson, Jackie Pickersgill, Ali Pickersgill, David Moss, Trevor Eggleton, Mike Cussens and Roger UnsworthThe launch team: Brian Nicholson, Mike Dickens, Mike Wilson, Jackie Pickersgill, Ali Pickersgill, David Moss, Trevor Eggleton, Mike Cussens and Roger Unsworth

‘In a way he was right because wooden boats were going out of fashion and as glues got better people could build their own wooden boats or simply buy a fibre-glass hull. It has been tough but I’m stubborn and I don’t give in easily. I just stuck at it.’

In spite of his father’s thoughts, after leaving school at 16, David began work at a boat yard in North Wales building wooden boats, yachts and racing sailing boats. From there he moved to a yard at Freckleton, then worked on the Shropshire Union Canal and moved to Glasson Dock after a brief spell on the Isle of Bute.

In 1985 he began building his own yard at Skippool and moved in a year later. He has since built a reputation for the quality and craftsmanship of his work and when he’s not at work, David can often be found in his 14ft sailing dinghy called Escape.

‘Word of mouth is very important in this business – if someone likes what you’ve done, they tell friends,’ he said. ‘I’m known around the country – and around the world – now and I have reputation for doing a good job. I’ve got to keep that up.

‘Whether you are doing up an old boat or building a new one, you get something to be proud of. You know it’s been done properly and it could last 100 years.’

Since opening his own yard, David, who now lives in Catterall, has employed apprentices to ensure the skills he learned as a teenager are not lost – the two with him now have both been at the yard for about 12 years.

‘There used to be boat yards all over this area but there are hardly any now so I have always helped younger people,’ he said.

‘I do my own drawings and designs, make a model and agree on a design with the customer, then build the full size version. Depending on the size and style of the boat, it can take anything from three months to three years.’

And among the projects underway at the yard is a 19ft launch he helped build in his late teens at the boat yard in Freckleton. ‘It’s just a bare hull at the moment but I’ve been trying to work on it for years and I’m determined to get it back in the water as it looked originally,’ he said.

More from People

Yesterday, 00:00

There have been a record-breaking number of entries for the Enterprise Vision Awards and voting starts this month

Read more
Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Home Reach has helped many people realise their dreams and own the home they want and need.

Read more
Thursday, August 2, 2018

A Lancashire couple sold up their home and their business so their sons could become farmers

Read more
Tuesday, July 24, 2018

A letter discovered hidden in the rafters of Elizabeth Gaskell’s home sheds light on the life of her staff.

Read more
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

FIFA’s second president organised one of the first international football competitions.

Read more
Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Actor Cath Tyldesley surprised fans by quitting Coronation Street but she has a bucket list of plans that will keep her extremely busy. She shared them with Lancashire Life readers.

Read more
Thursday, June 14, 2018

Two sisters who worked for the secret service during World War II recall their remarkable father whose memoir of life in a Japanese prisoner of war has come a best seller. Peter Adams met them.

Read more
Thursday, June 7, 2018

An inspiring young woman who suffered in silence for years because of a debilitating stammer has made a remarkable transformation.

Read more
Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Ribble Valley’s Bill Carter is following the family tradition of being a blacksmith using ancient skills to make unique pieces.

Read more
Monday, May 28, 2018

A former police officer from Chorley fought back from serious injury to take a gold medal at the Commonwealth

Read more
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Lancashire's trusted business finder

Property Search