The future of Arbroath boat building is in very good hands

New apprentice at Mackay's Boatyard Richard Talbert pictured with Lynn Cameron, Harry Simpson and Duncan Crosbie.
New apprentice at Mackay's Boatyard Richard Talbert pictured with Lynn Cameron, Harry Simpson and Duncan Crosbie.

An Arbroath boatyard is proving that boatbuilding is alive and well in the town after taking on its first apprentice in seven years.

Richard Talbert (16) has just finished the third week of his apprenticeship at MacKay Boatbuilders Ltd., thanks to a funding scheme aimed at reinvigorating the industry.

Company director Lynn Cameron explained how the Angus Council and the Scottish Fisheries Museum have made the apprenticeship possible.

She said: “The idea was the Angus Coastal Fisheries Fund Axis Four was to be match funded, but 
not from ourselves, so we had to get someone else, in this case the Scottish Fisheries Museum.

“In a couple of years and when he is a bit more skilled Richard will go to the museum for a couple of days to work on their boats.

“They want to keep the skills going as well so it’s working hand in hand with Angus Council, Scottish Fisheries Museum and ourselves to put the package together.”

Former Arbroath Academy pupil Richard said: “I did my work experience here and basically from then I’ve always wanted to work here.

“I like everything about my job really, I like being hands on and with this job you’ve got to be hands on.

“On Tuesday I was water-testing the windows and resealing them and started 
to lay the flooring in 
the Vulcan.”

The apprenticeship will take four years to complete with several relevant courses, including welding, fork lifting and manual handling, undertaken at Angus College.

Lynn added: “We realise that none of us are getting any younger and for the business to progress we need to keep the skills alive and update those skills as well.

“Some of the guys are very experienced in traditional boatbuilding skills and are now diversifying into fibre 
glass and making crates for the oil industry.

“Basically the apprentice will gain all these skills so he can do any job that comes in, rather than focusing on just one part.”

MacKay’s director Harry Simpson said: “I feel very happy about it, basically it keeps the boatbuilding industry alive. Without the youngsters coming in it will die and we need to keep the younger folk coming in so that doesn’t happen.”