Raveningham Oak to be transformed into Chet boat

A huge Oak tree from the Raveningham Estate, close to the site where the original Chet Boat was found has been donated to the Water Mills and Marshes project to build a working replica of the ancient vessel.

Students at the International Boatbuilding Training College (IBTC) have already built a scale replica of the boat which featured in a gold winning display at the Chelsea Flower Show last year. This new project is even more challenging. The Broads Authority, through a collection of Water, Mills and Marshes projects have commissioned the college to build a working Chet Boat using the same materials, tools and techniques that would have produced the original. This means that students will have to forge their own nails and make the axes and other tools needed to turn the massive timber trunk into a watertight boat capable of transporting people and goods on the inland waters of the Broads National Park.

The Raveningham Estate said: “This is a wonderful chance to tell a story and keep it local. A two hundred year old oak tree suffering from acute oak decline has been chosen, whereas we would normally leave standing dead wood for environmental benefits, on this occasion we get to prolong the life of this magnificent tree in the form of an ancient vessel.”

Raveningham oak felling

“Unfortunately this beautiful old tree is dying and has deteriorated to the point where we have to remove it. Given the Chet Boat was found so close to where this Oak has stood for so many years we thought it fitting to donate it to this project. It would be nice to think that in time she will be sailing past the estate!”

The Oak which is 7 metres tall and estimated to be 200 years old, weighing around 6 tons was felled yesterday and will be transported to the College in the next few weeks where students will set about the transformation.

Will Burchnall, Project Manager for the Water, Mills and Marshes projects at the Broads Authority commented:

“This is an exciting development for the Heritage Lottery funded project. We never imagined we would be able to source materials from a location so intrinsically linked to the Chet Boat and we are very grateful to the Raveningham Estate. I know the students will relish the opportunity to take materials in their rawest form and work them into something that will bring joy to many people in the future. I’m sure they will develop a deep appreciation of those that practiced their ancient craft many years before them.

The boat is expected to take 18 months to build.

Thursday 10 May 2018