In around the Spring of 2013 I moved down to Deptford and onto Suffolk. Her previous owner was around a similar age to myself at the time, in his late twenties and had brought her down from Bristol a couple of years previous, looking for a place to continue the restoration project that he had started several years before that.
From 2013 – 2015 I more or less got on with my life as a new member of Deptford’s long established residential boating community. Attending monthly meetings with the FODC (Friends Of Deptford Creek), collecting all manner of stuff from the market, hanging out on Luna, and generally having a good time. It is worth noting here that Luna acts as a central point for the community at our end of the creek, so a lot of time is spent there by all the boaters from the smaller boats tethered off Luna.
Here are some pics, this is myself – Mat Kennedy (the baldie) and Joe working on some MDF templates. photos courtesy of JJ
With regards to Suffolk, her engine, the leaky decks and truly mental assortment of odds and ends stored beneath the wheelhouse floors I was more or less baffled. The thing about a boat is its like a car / house on the water, and to understand such a thing you have get your head around all three elements and then multiply them by each other, to add to this mine is made of plants (wood). So you can see how getting you’re head around this could be a struggle.
Suffolk of Stalam (her full name) was built as the name suggests at Stalham boat yard in 1950. Stalham boat yard operated as a boat hire company, renting out vessels to holidaymakers on the Norfolk Broads. Suffolk, being an larger example of a boards cruiser (38 ft), would have had up to 7 berths.
She stayed in Stalam until 1972 at which point she passed into private hands and over the coming years had many owners and went under many names including Norfolk 2, Seajade Line, Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Sheila, Jaron and finally Suffolk of Stalam again at some point in the year 2000.
In 2015 I started to organise to get her out of the water for a survey to be followed up by what i thought would be a six month spruce up.
Two and half years later and i’ve just about turning the corner for the home straight. There are many things i could tell you about this process and at times in has truly tested my sanity. But in the end Suffolk has taught me about much more than boats and for that i’m eternally grateful.
Today Suffolk is being worked on as a full on restoration project, she is currently under cover on the Creek in what looks like a giant tarpaulin spaceship. The restoration of Suffolk has been helped along by the work of many on the creek and from around the Deptford community.
I feel a deep sense of belonging towards Deptford as many i know do. I grew up in London around the Harlesden area, which is not dissimilar to Deptford and i feel lucky, in these times to be able to remain close to family and friends in London as everyday people are being squeezed out at an alarming rate.