Ship builder's plan for Edith Eleanor

Contributed by Ceredigion Museum

Boat builder's drawing of the schooner, the Edith Eleanor, Aberystwyth, 1880 © Ceredigion Museum, Aberystwyth

Boat builder's drawings are rare. They normally worked from a small wooden model.Shipbuilding was a major industry along the West Wales coast. This plan - for a large ship built in Aberystwyth in the mid 19th century - gives an idea of the level of craftmanship required. The drawing was probably prepared by James Warrel, who built the Edith Eleanor. It was drawn at a scale of 1:48 and shows the number and shapes of the main timbers.
Boat builders needed many skills in building a large boat. They needed a good knowledge of mathematics to calculate the shape and size of the pieces of wood used in building the boat. They also needed to understand how the shape of a boat affected the way it moved in the water and they had to work out how to fit the wood together so that the boat would withstand a storm.
Despite the technical complexity, it was rare for boat builders to work from a drawing; many worked from experience and knowledge passed on through the generations.
The Edith Eleanor was the last of about 280 large wooden boats to be built in Aberystwyth during the 19th century. The smaller ones traded along the coast; the larger ones went all over the world. West Wales graveyards often record the deaths of local seamen in faraway lands.

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