Abels Shipbuilders: Final large Bristol shipbuilder closes

Forth Hope
Image caption Forth Hope is the final boat to be built by Abels Shipbuilders in the Albion Dockyard on Bristol's Floating Harbour

The last builder of large ships in Bristol has closed after its final vessel sailed out of dock.

Abels Shipbuilders at Albion dockyard on Bristol's Floating Harbour is to cease trading because its owner is retiring.

Bristol City Council said it will continue to partly lease the site as a repair facility.

The final boat 'Forth Hope', set sail on Wednesday afternoon for Edinburgh, where it will become a medical vessel.

Two firms Bristol Classic Boat Company and Slipway Co-operative will continue to build smaller boats in the city.

There is uncertainty over the future of the dry dock, and owner David Abels, 66, hopes it is not redeveloped because it is "the last one left".

Mr Abels has leased Albion Dockyard, which has been in operation since 1820, for 37 years.

Image caption Albion Dockyard has been in operation since 1820

Mr Abels voiced concerns it would be redeveloped into residential apartments and said: "Once you lose it, it's gone. The dock is an essential part of Bristol being Bristol".

The Bristol Ships Board said there would no longer be a dry dockyard in Bristol if the Albion closes.

Image caption David Abels, of Abels Shipbuilders is retiring and has concerns over the future of the dockyard

Bristol City Council confirmed the lease had gone out to tender and the authority is gathering expressions of interest, including one from the SS Great Britain Trust.

Robert Orrett, from Bristol City Council, said: "Anyone that takes the new lease will have a contractual obligation to us to make sure the larger vessels in the harbour that need to be maintained continue to have a facility."

Inside Out West will feature David Abels' story on Monday, 3 October. The programme followed the construction of the ship over the past six months.

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