Lead Shipwright - Restoration of the Thames Sailing Barge Raybel

1. Purpose

Raybel Charters is looking to appoint a LEAD SHIPWRIGHT, for the restoration of the Thames sailing barge Raybel at Milton Creek, Kent.

The appointed contractor will need to be an experienced and skilled shipwright, preferably with detailed knowledge of Thames sailing barge restoration work.

In addition, as this is a project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, we are placing strong emphasis on training and volunteering involvement. We require a shipwright to work with us, enthusiastically, to deliver these aspects of the project as well as the essential conservation work.

It is well known that there is a significant skills shortage in restoring and maintaining Thames sailing barges, and the training we can provide through the project is an important way in which we can help to ensure the sustainability of the whole sector.

The person appointed will: - 

  1. Oversee the delivery of the restoration work, in partnership with the directors, project manager and other team members 
  2. Supervise the work of other shipwright team members
  3. Provide guidance and support to trainees, volunteers and young people on work placements
  4. Contribute to project activities, such as open-barge days
  5. Ensure health and safety requirements are met during the work
  6. Assist directors in the procurement of timber and other materials needed

2. Background Information

Raybel Charters is a Community Interest Company founded in 2018 with the aim of returning the Thames sailing barge Raybel to sailing condition, and operating the barge as an asset for community benefit.

We have received funding of £680,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to carry out the restoration work, to provide training and work experience, to interpret Raybel’s history, and to deliver a programme of community activities and events. Approximately half of the funding is dedicated to the capital restoration work, covering both labour and materials. The project began in September 2019.

The restoration work will be carried out to meet sailing barge exemption certificate level, as agreed by the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA), the Sailing Barge Association and the Association of Bargemen, for a maximum of 12 passengers plus crew.

National Historic Ships UK guidelines on conserving historic vessels will be followed.

The main restoration tasks to be carried out are:

  • Restoration / replacement of bow frames and planking
  • Replacement of deck planking, rails and covering boards
  • Replacement of the outer wale 
  • Replacement of doubling at the bottom of the barge
  • Construction of bowsprit and rudder

3. Structure of the team

In addition to the Lead Shipwright. three other shipwright team members will be employed on the team:

  • A ‘second’ shipwright who will be skilled and experienced in the craft


  • Two assistants, who will be competent wood workers and able to assist with the heavy manual tasks involved. One of the two assistants will be experienced in youth work, training or similar and so able to support the supervising shipwright in this aspect of the project.

Other members of the shipwright team will be appointed by Raybel Charters, in consultation with the appointed Lead Shipwright.

We are anticipating extensive volunteer involvement in the restoration work, and already have a team of 12 able volunteers keen to be involved. We anticipate three or four of these 12 will be on site each working day.

In addition, there will be a number of work experience placements joining the team, with one or two on site each working day.

In total, therefore, a working shipwright team on any day could number as many as 10.

  • Supervising shipwright
  • Second shipwright
  • 2 x Assistants
  • 4 x Volunteers
  • 2 x Work placement trainees

As well as the shipwright team, the project employs a part-time project manager (3 days a week) and a part-time Interpretation manager (2 days a week).

4. Contract terms

The role will be contracted on a self-employed basis. Contractors will be expected to take responsibility for their own National Insurance and Tax liabilities and are expected to hold personal liability insurance.

We can be flexible about the terms of work, and are willing to discuss these, but envisage that the duration of the contract will be for an 18-month calendar year period between start May 2020 (or as close as can be managed) and end October 2021.

The contractor will report to the directors of Raybel Charters CIC.

5. Location

The restoration will take place at Lloyd Wharf, Milton Creek, Sittingbourne. Lloyd Wharf is also the location of the Dolphin Sailing Barge Museum, which is being used as the project base.

6. Health and Safety

Contractors must be aware of the responsibilities placed on them under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974), and to ensure that agreed safety procedures are carried out to maintain a safe environment for employees, visitors and all others. All staff have a responsibility to manage risk within their sphere of responsibility.

Contractors are accountable, through the terms and conditions of their employment, and statutory health and safety regulations, and are responsible for reporting incidents, being aware of the risk management strategy and emergency procedures and attendance at training as required.

The contractor will be expected to review and, if necessary, strengthen the Raybel Charters health and safety policy and systems.

7. Applying for the post

Applicants should send a short summary of their experience and interest, along with an indicative cost quote for the lead shipwright role. Contractors should bear in mind that our total project budget needs to cover the costs of employing other members of the shipwright team as well.

A detailed condition survey and statement of significance are available on request to assist in preparing the quote. We can arrange visits to view the barge, on request.

Materials should not be costed. There is a separate budget for materials, of £90,000 based on the detailed condition survey and estimates that have already been prepared.

Quotes should be sent to info@raybelcharters.com to arrive by end March 2020.

8. Person Specification - see pdf link below


An up to date DBS check or willingness to undertake one.

Closing date
Job type
Job location
South East
Contact email