Boatbuilding students from Falmouth Marine School have saved a little piece of Cornish History, with the restoration of a vintage Cornish post boat.
The St Michaels Mount Post Boat, managed by the National Trust and St Aubyn Estates, was built in 1954 and was historically used to ferry the island’s mail from the mainland to the Mount.
Named ‘Susan’ after the fourth Lady St Levan and part of the St Michael’s Mount historic boat collection, she is a heavily constructed clinker vessel, built with 3/8th pine or larch planking over oak steam frames and designed for an arduous life of service.
By the time she arrived at Falmouth Marine School’s workshop, at Ponsharden Boatyard in Falmouth, those many years of service and more recent poor storage had sadly taken their toll on the boats structure.
Susan was in need of a “sympathetic” restoration, according to course manager Chris Boskano-Green.
“She had clearly undergone numerous repairs throughout her life, some successful and others mere stop gaps, it was time to make her fit for service once again,” he added.
The students were tasked with fully managing the project, from meeting the customer and surveying the boat, through costings and ordering materials, to the problem solving, fabrication, repair, finishing and delivery of the completed restoration.
Student Henry Eaton said the damage was “extensive” and a “long list of repairs” was required.
“However, it was decided to retain as much of the original boat as we could, to retain her character,” he added.
Over several months, Susan was returned to a fully serviceable condition and reunited with the St Michaels Mount State Barges, the 1st State Barge ‘St Michael’ believed to originate around the 1770’s and ‘Henry Burt’ built in the 1840s.
Mike Greig, head boatman and harbour master at St Michael’s Mount, said the craftsmanship shown by the students was “phenomenal”.
“Susan will be a great asset to the visitor experience at St Michaels Mount,” he said. “Next year we are having an A-board built that will incorporate the Post Boat and the Barges. We also have another historical project in the pipeline that we would like the students to work on.”