STAGING North East community project builds rowing boat - British Rowing

North East community project builds rowing boat

Residents from a local housing project in the North East have built a boat from scratch, using a small disused church as a makeshift workshop.

Tyne Housing Association residents have spent the last six months building ‘Byker Belle’ – a 22ft coastal rowing boat – learning and implementing traditional and modern boatbuilding techniques.

After completing the Byker Belle, the proud boat-builders wheeled their new five-man boat through the streets of Byker, before lowering it into the Marina for the first time.

“There were so many people who came into the church to see the boat being built. It is definitely something out of the ordinary” Alex Finnegan – who led the project for PuppetShip CIC told Sky News.


“It is a great achievement for everyone involved with the project.”

The Tyne Housing Association supports vulnerable and isolated people in and around Newcastle upon Tyne, and the aim of the boatbuilding scheme has been to improve residents’ confidence and employability skills.

“For some of the residents it has increased their confidence,” added Kath Lisle, Housing Co-ordinator at Byker Bridge Housing Association. “Not many people can tell their friends and family that they have built a boat.”

For more pictures of the Byker Belle, visit