In 2018 Woodbridge Town Council awarded a 35 year lease for the Longshed to Woodbridge Riverside Trust. Work to complete initial fitting out of the workshop space and the mezzanine gallery was completed in January 2019.

The Longshed design was specified to be large enough to build a full-size reconstruction of the Sutton Hoo Burial ship – measuring 27m. Space below the gallery will be used for smaller boat-building projects alongside the Anglo-Saxon ship reconstruction.

The overall cost of turning the Longshed into a place that the community can use and enjoy was over £90,000: we needed to put in lighting, office space for volunteers, flooring for the mezzanine gallery, a second staircase, a lift for disabled people, visitor toilet, and equipment for the workshop. The gallery below show the transformation that has taken place.

The fitout programme was led by the WRT chairman who has a professional background in managing large building projects. He was supported by a team of volunteers including an architect with experience of working on community projects, and people with expertise in engineering and building trades.

The cost of the work was met through generous grants and donations including donations of materials. We want to thank:

  • The Nichol-Young Foundation; The Worshipful Company of Shipwrights; The Geoffrey Burton Charitable Trust; The Scarfe Charitable Trust; The Lord Belstead Charitable Trust; The Alfred Williams Trust; The John and Ruth Howard Charitable Trust; The Mary Lesley Carter Trust; The Rank Foundation; The National Lottery; Suffolk Coastal District Council; Suffolk Coasts and Heaths AONB; The River Deben Association; The Garfield Weston Foundation; Woodbridge Town Council
  • AkzoNobel; Bradley Building Contractors; Chapel Properties; RG Carter Construction
  • Julian and Sarah Royle for their appeal to Woodbridge people
  • The very special people who have given money so generously and anonymously
  • And the many volunteers who contribute time, energy and expertise to the project.

As a result of that generous support, together with the hard work of volunteers, we have a fully kitted out and functioning boat building facility. Our mezzanine floor has been developed into a multi-purpose community space named the John Gibbins Gallery.

Visitor access to the John Gibbins Gallery is via stairs beside the front entrance to the ground floor of the shed and a lift. The gallery will provide opportunities to explore ideas, try things out and find out about boats and boat-building, local maritime heritage and the people who lived and worked on the River Deben.

The complementary functions of the gallery and the workshop provide a unique opportunity for visitors to find out about Anglo-Saxon times and the environment in which the ship was used and also to see in practice how it was constructed.

Technical details

For technical information on the Waterfront Community Longshed, contact Bryan Knibbs (chair@woodbridgeriversidetrust.org).