Brewer supports oyster boat restoration

TASKMASTER Whitstable Maritime’s Chair, Gordon Vincent, with the Gamecock

Faversham-based brewer and pub company Shepherd Neame is helping to sponsor the renovation of an iconic boat that was once involved in Whitstable’s famous oyster trade.

The Gamecock is a traditional Oyster Yawl, one of only three to survive intact, and spent its working life dredging oysters in the Swale. 

She was built at Island Wall, Whitstable, in 1907, just yards from Shepherd Neame pub The Smack Inn.

Boasting a unique design, a similar vessel can be seen on the labels and pump clips of Shepherd Neame’s award-winning Whitstable Bay beer range.

After falling into a state of disrepair, the 42-foot Gamecock, which is registered as a National Historic Vessel, was acquired six years ago by the charity Whitstable Maritime, who have subsequently set about the painstaking job of renovating the craft. 

It requires extensive work on its stern, decking and rigging, and the cost of the renovation is estimated at £80,000. 

The Gamecock has now been given a permanent dry berth by Canterbury City Council at South Quay, Whitstable Harbour, where it can be admired by members of the public as work to renovate the vessel continues.

It’s estimated the restoration will take two more years, and when completed the boat will be used as a ‘community asset’ – one able to take small groups on short trips.