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Sailmaking in Ipswich

Introduction

Sailmakers were one of the most important trades that supported the many sailing ships trading through the port of Ipswich. They made and repaired the sails, as well as cart covers and tarpaulins, and sometimes the sacks used to transport all kinds of products. Their premises were often the upper floor of a building where there were fewer supporting pillars, giving the sailmaker a clearer space to lay out the sails. Over the centuries, the methods, tools and materials they used remained very much the same. The sailmaker would sit on his long, low bench and sewed together the cloths of hemp or flax canvas using a palm and needle. Miles of seams would be needed to make a sail, all sewn by hand. The early 20th century saw the introduction of the sewing machine, but much work was still done by hand.The last sailmakers to operate in the port of Ipswich were J.O. Whitmore,whose loft was on Wherry Quay on the site of what is now the new extensionof the Salthouse Harbour Hotel. They ceased trading in 1984, but made and repaired barge sails right up to the end.

Comments

Posted:2016 8 31 11:20:00 GMT
mary russell
where can I see sails being made in England? Wd like to learn more about the history of sailmaking....researching a book about transatlantic trade.. Thanks
mary russell scribea1@hotmail.clom

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Related Pages

Sail Cloth Clamp

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Packet of sailmakers needles with individual needle and the grease horn the sailmaker would use to store the needles, to prevent them from rusting.

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Sail Cloth Clamp

This page is part of the Online Exhibition(s): Sailmaking in Ipswich