Remembering Beverley's Shipyard with a new exhibition and play at Beverley Guildhall

Tue, 05 Mar 2019

An exhibition looking at the long history of boat building in Beverley opens at the Beverley Guildhall on Wednesday, 20 March. The exhibition has been called ‘Trawling Through Time’ to link it with the project of the same name that has been under way in the East Riding Archives over the past few months.

In a departure from their normal format, the Guildhall exhibition also features a play, ‘Broadside On: Echoes from the Shipyard’, telling the story of the shipyard in the words of the men who worked there, which will be performed in the Guildhall on Saturday, 6 April at 1.30pm.

The Archives project was set up when the Archives team received a historic collection of ships’ plans from Cook, Welton & Gemmell. Since then, with the help of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund and an enthusiastic team of volunteers, they have been cataloguing and digitising the plans, and making them accessible on line. More information on the project, as well as the plans themselves, is available to view by visiting the project website (trawlingthroughtime.org).

However, boats were being built in Beverley long before the Cook, Welton & Gemmell shipyard developed into one of the town’s most important industries in the mid 20th century. Wooden boats were built on the Beck from medieval times until the 1950s, and the Grovehill shipyard itself was originally started in 1763. The exhibition looks at the early history of the Grovehill yard, the Cook, Welton & Gemmell years, and the final days of the industry in the 1970s. The two main carpenters’ yards on the Beck are also covered, as well as the ferry and bridge linking the Grovehill yard to another, lesser known shipyard started by Joseph Scarr on the east side of the river in 1892.

Fiona Jenkinson, curator of the Guildhall, said “We are particularly pleased that we are able to present the history of this important industry, not only in our traditional exhibition format, but also as a play that brings to life what it was like to work at the shipyard. We worked with Gordon Meredith of the East Riding Theatre who used the oral histories collected for the Archives project, as well as those of a previous Shipyard project in the Guildhall, to develop the dialogue, and the ambience of the yard is beautifully created with original music by Wai Wan. We do hope that people come along to support this initiative, and if it is successful we may consider whether we can do the same sort of thing again in the future.”

The ‘Trawling Through Time’ exhibition opens at the Beverley Guildhall on Wednesday, 20 March and runs until 19 July, 2019. The play ‘Broadside On: Echoes from the Shipyard’ will be performed on Saturday, 6 April at 1.30pm. Tickets are available by phoning (01482) 392699 (Mon-Fri 9am-4pm) or by visiting www.bridspa.com/events and searching the Beverley Guildhall venue.

The Guildhall is located in Register Square next to the main post office. The building is open from 10am to 4pm every Friday, every Wednesday from 10am to 1pm until 30 April and then 10am to 4pm on both Wednesdays and Fridays. Admission to the building is free.