About the Woodbridge Riverside Trust (WRT)
The WRT is a nonprofit community organisation that welcomes you to the 'Longshed', their unique maritime heritage initiative, breathing new life into the heart of the Woodbridge waterfront.
The once derelict site of the old Whisstocks Boatyard has been transformed; in April 2018 the WRT took on the lease of the Longshed. Over £90,000 raised from grants and individual donations, together with hundreds of hours of time contributed by volunteers, has transformed the 'shell' building into a well-equipped workshop with a large mezzanine gallery for activities and events.
The WRT want to secure real, long-term benefits through opportunities to find out about our outstanding maritime heritage and riverside environment, through learning, training, developing skills and, most of all, enjoyment.
Aims of the charity:
- make the Woodbridge Waterfront an attractive and interesting place to be
- provide opportunities for people of all ages to gain understanding of the maritime significance of Woodbridge and to acquire and use relevant practical, historical, environmental, archaeological and scientific skills
- build connections between Woodbridge, Sutton Hoo, other parts of the UK and beyond based on common heritage and maritime links.
Construction of the experimental, full-scale replica of the Sutton Hoo Anglo-Saxon royal burial ship is the catalyst project that will define the Longshed as a centre of excellence and a major international attraction. The project is being led by sister charity, The Sutton Hoo Ship's Company. Find out more about the project here.
Partnerships with local tertiary education colleges offer the opportunity for traineeships and short courses in engineering, arboreal studies, woodworking and environmental studies, for students of all ages.
WRT's mission, and the Longshed's purpose, is to keep in touch with our maritime heritage, so courses can relate to heritage boat building, restoration and maintenance in the widest sense. They can be quite independent of the Anglo-Ship reconstruction, although it may be a bonus and in inspiration.
Once the Anglo-Saxon ship is launched, it will have a new role in 'heritage' as an international platform for archaeological studies. Exploring the potential of the ship as a rowing machine, sailing vessel, and voyaging tool offers opportunities for pure research, not to mention adventure and publicity for the original Sutton Hoo site.
Whisstocks aims to become recognised as a unique educational centre, for local people of all ages, for visitors to Suffolk, and as a cog in an academic wheel. It will offer opportunities to open new horizons through practical and intellectual understanding of heritage, and develop knowledge and skills that are valued throughout life.
Proposals for the Quay
The Longshed is linked via the open public space, known as Whisstocks Place, to the waterfront. Whisstocks Place is owned and managed by Woodbridge Town Council. It is open to public access at all times, and by arrangement with the Town Council, for the organisation of events of all kinds as set out in the site covenants.
The intention of the Woodbridge Town Council is to lease the quayside and slip, to be managed together with the town quay (alongside the Tide Mill). In addition, it is dedicated to keeping the waterfront quayside in character with its maritime heritage. The aim is to encourage the use of the quay by traditional boats to retain the heritage look of quayside.
The slipway has been renovated by the developer. It is owned by the Crown Estates and will be leased to Woodbridge Town Council.
Years ago, a rowed ferry connected the quayside with the foreshore on the Sutton Hoo side of the river. Ideas to start up a new cross river ferry in cooperation with private operators are under discussion.
Other ideas are also under discussion, including links with local pleasure trip operators, and the organisers of barge ad other traditional craft charters.
Creating a Heritage Hub
Woodbridge Museum is working with the WRT to create a heritage hub, uniting the Longshed, the Tide Mill, the public space and waterfront, with the Heritage Building, the new home of the Museum.
In keeping with is new location, the Museum intends to create a new series of displays describing the town's Anglo-Saxon origins and its growth as a market, port and shipbuilding centre.
Find out more here
December 2020 Woodbridge Riverside Trust have received some funding to allow them to continue the fitout of the Gallery with the installation in January 2021 of a sound reducing double glazed screen wall to divide the Gallery from the workshop areas. This will greatly reduce any noise and dust from the workshops and will make the Gallery more user friendly for exhibitions, classes, talks and other activities that require a clean and quiet space.
The Trust is planning to re-open The Longshed in March 2021, or earlier depending on Government guidelines.