In the days of sail and wooden ships, Stromness harbour welcomed tall ships from many far places including those bound for Hudson’s Bay, Greenland whalers, Moravian Mission ships, and also visitors like Captain Cook’s ships on their return from Hawaii and John Franklin about to commence his search for the Northwest Passage. Stromness-built ships also lay at anchor in the harbour, with a few berthed alongside merchants’ piers.
Len Wilson, former boatbuilder, tells the story of the tall ships and the men who sailed them, while naval architect Dennis Davidson of Murray Cormack Design describes Stanger’s and Copland’s shipyards in Stromness and some of the ships they built.
Len also continues the tradition he learnt from his father of making ships in bottles, the subject of a new exhibition at the Northlight Gallery in Stromness till 27 July.
Dennis’s designs have included the aluminium motorboat Polar Bound in which the sailor and explorer David Cowper has made four transits of the Northwest Passage. The boat’s design, with raised bow and reinforced egg-shaped hull, was developed to cope with the large ice crushing pressures from ice flows swept by tidal streams and strong winds – the same pressures faced by the 19th-century wooden whalers that called at Stromness to pick up crews in the days of sail.
Tickets £6 & £4 can be booked through this LINK.