A WORKSHOP on the banks of the Esk is quietly proving that local talent and industry still survive in Whitby.
In a town where the younger generation believe they must leave in order to succeed, Parkol Marine and its team of locally-sourced tradesmen are bucking the trend.
Few in Whitby will know what is taking place under the large tarpaulin framework beside the Upper Harbour, but the Gazette was given a guided tour by Jim Morrison, who has seen his business take its place at the forefront of the British boatbuilding industry.
The work of Parkol’s 28 employees is currently split between the construction of a new multi-million pound pleasure craft and the pioneering extension of a fishing vessel, something which has also never been done in Whitby before.
Allegiance, a 60-foot trawler based at Peterhead, has been completely cut in half and will be fitted with a new midsection, aft and bow, extending the vessel by 7.25m.
The new hull sections and bulbous bow have been fabricated in the Whitby workshop.
The work is a huge investment for fisherman Danny Normandale, originally from Scarborough.
It will see his vessel, which has been in the family since its construction in 1987, double the amount of fish it can hold.
“This is going to take her up to 86-feet,” said Danny.
“It takes about two days just to get to the fishing grounds and we’re spending £700 on fuel each trip. This will double our fish hold capacity, giving us an extra two days at sea.”
Lengthening the hull is also expected to significantly increase Allegiance’s steam speed and fuel economy.
Less trips to and from the fishing grounds mean that expenses can decrease, so this groundbreaking work by Parkol is directly helping to support the fishing industry, which Mr Normandale says remains strong, despite a lot of media coverage stating otherwise.
“We’ve had, up to now, the best year we’ve ever had since our family has been in fishing” he said.
“It’s down to working hard and if you put the effort in, you get the results.”
The other major project at the workshop is a state-of-the-art pleasure craft, hidden away from view beneath the tarpauline structure.
It was designed by Parkol director Ian Paton to resemble an old American riverboat, but possesses all the luxury accessories that can only be afforded by today’s super-rich.
“Normally a boat like this would take 12 months to build”, said Jim, “But the bloke who owns it has project-managed it and he must have been to every boat show in the world looking for ideas.
“This deck is going to get covered with teak from India and the main bedroom will be fit with a cast-iron bath.”
In addition, doors are being shipped in from America, a desalination plant will produce drinking water, and a gyroscope will keep the boat steadier in the water.
Many other features are included in the design, leading Jim to comment: “This will be something special when it’s completed.”
Orders for new builds may have actually slowed recently but it is through these modifications and other repairs to vessels that Parkol Marine is able receive a solid income.
With all the designing, construction and assembly taking place in the Church Street boatyard, Parkol are proving that Whitby’s maritime heart is still beating strong.