Ex-shipyard workers come together on boat build

Peter Wylie who has built a 50ft steel canal long boat.
Peter Wylie who has built a 50ft steel canal long boat.

An out-of-work shipyard worker swapped the sofa for slipway to put his skills to good use.

After chasing work up and down the country, Peter Wylie has hand-built a 50ft-long steel canal narrow boat along with his friends.

Between them, they had amassed more than 130 years’ shipbuilding experience and decided to bring boat-building back to Tyneside.

Peter, a former plater, has decided to form NE Narrowboats.

In just four months, with financial help from friends and his skilled worker friends donating their time for free, the first narrow boat has been completed and is ready for sale.

Peter’s short-term goal is to build and sell boats for other people, this will allow him to build up the company and employ local people before building a fleet of boats for holiday rentals, with an additional fleet to provide free respite holidays for terminally-ill children and adults.

Peter said: “In our family, we’ve lost a lot of people to cancer and we’ve see the pain and suffering it brings to families. We’d love to support our community by bringing jobs to the area at the same time as helping those less fortunate than ourselves who are suffering from terminal illnesses.”

Friends and strangers have offered help during the building process.

Local companies and friends have donated portable cabins, specialist tools and scaffolding.

Peter now hopes to sell the 50-foot narrow boat, which needs fitting out internally.

“We are looking for investment in the business but also in the community of the north east, “said Peter.

“We have centuries of experience in quality boat building and the know how to put our skills to good use once again on the Tyne.”

Previously, the Royal Fleet Auxillary Service vessel, Largs Bay was the last ship built on the Tyne.

It was built by Swan Hunter in Wallsend, and launched for sea trials in November 2006. It has now been renamed and is in operation with the Royal Australia Navy.