Sunday, 17 October 2021

Second Arnside Conference

D and I went to Arnside (by train) for the second conference on the Crossfields and the boats they built for use in Morecambe Bay and beyond. The conference was once again ably organised by Alasdair Simpson, Commodore of the Arnside sailing club. At the last conference a couple of years ago I gave a talk on Bonita. This time we went to listen, learn and network. We had a very interesting and sociable time and hope the conference will become a regular, if not annual occasion. Its good to hear of the efforts going into preserving these fine boats. As well as the old wooden boats there are several grp Crossfields boats made from a mould taken of the old Morecambe Bay lifeboat, the William Priestley. The Crossfields made hundreds of boats and about 40 are still in existance. Bonita is the oldest, as shown in the poster on display at the conference....
The Church Hill boatyard where Bonita was built no longer exists- it was demolished a couple of years ago and replaced by new housing. Unusually, the boatyard is not on the waters edge, but up a fairly steep hill in the middle of the village. When completed, the boats were rolled on a trolley down the hill and onto the beach, to be lifted off by the incoming tide. The Crossfields had no way of getting boats back into the yard if there was a problem, so everything had to be 'right first time'. The second picture shows the river Kent, running west from Arnside out towards the sea.

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