The Boat That Willie Built
It was said of Willie Johns, that he built what would fit in his workshop, to the length of timber available.
Having served his time at W.H.Lean's of Falmouth in 1891, Willie finally set up his own business in the 1920's at a workshop near to Luce's beach in Flushing across the Penryn River from Falmouth. Willie built boats from rowing boats to motor launches to sailing yachts, completing his last boat when he was 75.
It is as a tribute to Willie Johns that Falmouth Marine School students on the Traditional Boatbuilding course are building a replica of ‘Sirius'. Built in 1946, she is now in the proud ownership of Ralph Bird, the renowned Gig builder.
Adrian Fielding, tutor on the course commented: "We had always admired her lines and decided to build a replica as this year's project."
The project offers the opportunity for students to take the lines off of the original boat, loft, build and launch the boat during the one-year course.
A regular visitor to the Marines School's workshops is Willie's granddaughter Carol. "I am sure that Willie Johns would be very happy to see the progress that the students are making on ‘Sirius'. We were invited by the staff at Falmouth Marine School to be involved with the project from the start, and we even found some copper boat nails from the old workshop that will be put into the boat. Granddad would have loved that."
If you would like to learn more about the Traditional Boatbuilding City & Guilds Level 3 course, please come along to the Traditional Boatbuilding Open Day on Friday 24th April, 10-4pm. You will have a chance to talk to tutors and students about the course as well as seeing how this year's project is progressing.
Dave Linnell OBE, Principal of Cornwall College commented: "The students get to work on this particular project from start to finish, and the end product is a fantastic, traditionally made boat. It is great that they build these West Country boats, not only developing valuable skills but also keeping the tradition alive in the county."
To find out more about the Traditional Boatbuilding Open Day at Ponsharden Boatyard, Falmouth Road, Penryn, Cornwall TR11 2SE please contact Falmouth Marine School:
Tel: 01326 310310