A painstaking 18-month restoration programme is underway to refurbish the 142ft Royal Navy HMS Ganges mast back to its former glory. The Grade II Listed mast has been dismantled piece by piece from Wavensmere Homes’ £130m Barrelman’s Point development, which is on the Shotley Peninsula, in Ipswich, Suffolk.
The 60-acre coastal development of 285 two-, three-, four-, and five-bedroom houses sits at the southern end of the Suffolk Coast & Heaths AONB. It is regenerating Shotley’s former Royal Navy Training Establishment, which had lain derelict for 46 years. The first phase of 81 high specification homes, priced from £280,000, will be available for occupation from this summer. All homes will feature air source heat pumps, EV car charging points, and have been designed using a fabric-first approach, to retain heat energy.
The landmark iron, steel, and timber mast – which dates back to 1865 – was erected in 1907 where HMS Ganges, a 74-gun 18th Century ship had stood, before retiring to Chatham Dockyard in Kent two years prior. A ceremony took place in mid-2022 to commemorate the last time the mast was manned, which was on 6th June 1974. All sections of the mast have since been taken down by specialist restorers, except for the lower steel section.
Jim Dines, Managing Director of TS Rigging, based in Maldon, Essex, said: “My father trained at HMS Ganges in the 1950s and went to sea with the Royal Navy. He would have climbed this mast numerous times as part of his training. All the boys at HMS Ganges would have had to climb to the top platform at a height of 60ft, before hoisting themselves over the platform’s edge. I was a ships’ engineer with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary before coming ashore, and everyone who works for TS Rigging sails for both work and pleasure.
“During the time Shotley Naval Base was derelict, the mast had fallen into a poor state of repair. The iron elements had become very rusty and much of the wooden sections have severe rot, so much so, large sections of the mast had fallen away. We have undertaken technical surveys of every aspect of the mast, so that we can carry out an authentic restoration, using as much of the original fabric as possible.
“Wavensmere Homes has given us the time and budget to fully restore this regional landmark using traditional techniques and see it reinstated back to its original condition, where it will be accessible to the public. The mast has been here for nearly 120 years, and it is our job to ensure it continues to stand the test of time. Historically significant projects like this really stick in the memory. It is a privilege to be a part of it.”
Wavensmere Homes’ plans for phase one at Barrelman’s Point were approved by Babergh District Council in 2021. The scheme includes a nursing home, retail and sports facilities, office space, and a hotel. The historic Nelson Hall – a former drill hall – will also be restored and redeveloped to create a public library and large café space. The vast hall is currently being utilised to restore the mast.
Exclusive amenities for residents’ use, include a gymnasium, co-working space, and a screening room to watch films on a big screen, with a low service charge for the communal amenities shared across the 285 homes. Across the 60-acre development, there will be landscaped public open spaces, new biodiverse meadow planting, tree lined avenues, and children’s play areas.
James Dickens, Managing Director at Wavensmere Homes, said: “More than 160,000 Navy recruits passed through the gates of the HMS Ganges training base, until its closure in June 1976. The mast is the best-known landmark across the entire Shotley Peninsula. We are proud to be reanimating this atmospheric and expansive site with the restoration of the awe-inspiring mast, the main gates, the parade ground, Nelson Hall, a mid 19th Century fort, and a Martello tower.
“The 285 eco-focused homes we are creating here will enable local people and those relocating to the area to own their own slice of history and live amongst it. The scale of the 60-acre site enables us to deliver a new waterside village within Shotley, significantly boosting the local economy and amenity provision. Our highly skilled team is progressing well with the construction and restoration work, and we are very much looking forward to welcoming the first residents.”
The name for the development – Barrelman’s Point – gives affirmation to the person who would be stationed in the barrel of the foremast to aid navigation of the vessel. HMS Ganges Museum and Shotley Marina are both only a few minutes’ walk from the new development. The village of Shotley also includes a primary school and local facilities.
The B1456 is nearby to the development, leading to the A137. The A120, A12, and A14 are also easily accessible, providing convenient travel across the county and beyond. The historic city of Ipswich is five miles away, which includes a host of town centre amenities and visitor attractions. There are frequent services from Ipswich train station to London Liverpool Street, which take an hour.
Wavensmere Homes is delivering Barrelman’s Point in partnership with Galliard Homes. Headquartered in Edgbaston, Birmingham, the rapidly growing housebuilder has close to 2,000 properties in production, or in planning.
For further information on Barrelman’s Point, or to book an in-person, or virtual appointment, call 01473 233 966, or email email@example.com.