Renovation of Falmouth Cutter Ship keeps shipwright skills alive

Top row: Brian Pain project director, Luke Powell head shipwright
Bottom row: Clyde Kramer, Shane Newcombe, Ned Rolt, Andy Cornish, John Bray.

A new project has started – to resurrect a Falmouth Pilot Cutter Ship, rejuvenating some of the traditional skills of wooden ship-building as a community programme.

The ambitious project includes teaching a new generation the art of the shipwright before the skills are lost forever.

The ship, called Pellew, is being faithfully restored from one of the best documented and longest surviving of the cutters – the Vincent, a vessel originally built in 1852.  She worked successfully for 70 years until being retired in 1922, ending her days as a houseboat.

The Falmouth Pilot Cutters were built for speed and durability – the first to a ship outside of the harbour would catch the work and with a good cutter, the crew could earn well. Each carried eight pilots who would guide ships around the Scilly Isles and the treacherous Atlantic Coast into Falmouth’s harbour, one of the deepest harbours in the world.

During the 1600s and for 150 years, Falmouth played a key role in global communications as a packet station and had a flourishing ship building industry.  Its maritime industry is still one of the area’s biggest sources of employment with several boat builders having their headquarters there, including luxury superyacht builder Pendennis and other leisure boat builders including Cockwells, Mylor Creek, Rustler Yachts and the Falmouth Boat Company.  All of these are keen to nurture our younger talent and ensure the skills of boat building continue for generations to come.