Ship builder’s pledge to secure town’s manufacturing industry

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The tradition of ship-building in Whitby is set to be secured for the long term after Parkol Marine announced plans to radically redevelop its business.

Parkol this week announced plans to double the capacity of its boat-building operation which have been submitted to the borough council.

If given the go-ahead they will see two, 28 metre boat building platforms constructed on the quay at Eskside Wharf, a new floating dry dock and the current shed demolished and rebuilt.

The firm says it is making a “significant investment” that will ensure the business provides career opportunities well into the future but also addresses working limitations brought about by structural concerns over the sheet pilings at the edge of the wharf.

Parkol is currently in discussions with Scarborough Borough Council about who will foot the potential £3 million repair bill for the metal sheet piles, which have corroded over time letting water in, causing soil underneath the ground to be washed out.

A ten metre restriction, which prevents work being done near the edge of the wharf, would be counter-acted by the new boat building platforms.

Sally Atkinson, director and daughter of Parkol managing director, Jim Morrison, told the Gazette: said: “We have been thinking about it for a while but what has brought it to a head is that we are building bigger boats and it enables us to work closer to the edge.

“There are problems with the sheet pile walls and the platforms will take the pressure off them.”

She added: “We are committed to staying in Whitby and the prime thing is to safe-guard jobs.

“We have 40 staff here working in manufacturing and they can’t do that elsewhere in Whitby. We provide alternative employment to tourism, we want to grow the business and provide further manufacturing jobs.”

The changes at the yard will also allow Parkol to take on more boat building projects and work more efficiently.

By increasing the height of the new shed by almost a metre and a half, more work will be carried out under cover with the use of overhead cranes.

It will make operations more environmentally friendly as noise and dust will be contained.

A viewing platform will also be incorporated into the new shed to satisfy increasing public interest in Parkol projects .

Visitors will be asked to make a donation which will be given to sea-faring charities.

If planning permission is granted, work isn’t expected to start until next year due to current work commitments.

Parkol is currently building a 27 metre salmon feed carrier for LCL Shipping based in the Shetlands. Previous Parkol boats - Copious, Jubilee Quest, Celtic Dawn and Noronya - have come back to the yard in recent weeks repair and the firm has recently taken enquiries from Scotland, Ireland and Norway.

Mrs Atkinson said: “We have gone from a repair business in the 70s and 80s with five men to a 40 strong work force. The success of Parkol is attributed to good design and a quality product that meets client expectations.“We are certainly looking to the future.”