The ideas set out by the Kent Traditional Boat Association iin this website show the the rich and diverse heritage of traditional Kentish boats and demonstrate that it is important to take measures to record and preserve these. Over the years boats such as these have been displaced from their original uses either because these no longer exist or because boats made of modern materials that require much less maintenance and are considerably less expensive to build have replaced them. Most of the boats that remain are no longer in use for their original purpose and the remainder are likely to be cease to be used in the not too distant future. The only way that those that remain will be maintained is for them to be taken over by enthusiasts or trusts dedicated to using and maintaining them.
The activities page shows how a variety of actions could be set up that would help to preserve these boats and bring their importance to the notice of a wider audience. To take this vision forward will need the work and enthusiasm of individuals dedicated to the cause. As a first stage, it would be helpful if anyone who might be interested in the aims set out here could contact us so that we can draw up a list of these people. When enough have responded, it is proposed that a meeting be set up somewhere in the middle of Kent which would bring everyone together. At the meeting people would be invited to join this Association at an early stage and, once signed up, they would then elect a small committee to take the project forward. The committee would look at the list of proposed activities and decide on a programme of how these would be taken forward. Some of the more ambitious ideas would have to wait until the Association has become reasonably well-established. Ideally, officers would be appointed to develop individual projects. If the right team can be put together, there is a good prospect of this project going forward.
Already there is an offer for initially one and later another Gravesend Waterman’s skiff being donated to the Association. These would allow a group of people interested in rowing these to be built up in the Gravesend area. Two other boats might also be made available and if this were to happen there would be a fleet of four which would be a viable number for races. The availability of these boats would allow the viability of the Kent Traditional Boat Association owning and managing traditional boats to be tested. If it works here, there is no reason why the idea should not work elsewhere.
The organisation of a conference on Kent traditional boats would allow the participation of a wider group of people interested in history but not necessarily interested in using or restoring boats. The organisation of such a conference would not be too difficult and should be cost-neutral provided a relatively inexpensive venue can be found.