Articles

ARTHUR EDWIN WOOTTEN

Arthur was born in Holyport in 1872.  His chosen career was that of an Electrical Engineer.  He was reportedly the first to supply domestic electricity to local houses in Bourne End and to Abbotsbrook Estate from a dynamo which he ran from his workshop.  This was subsequently taken over by the Cookham and District Electricity Company and later by the Wessex Corporation.

He started out by buying a second hand shed and began WOOTTENS BOATYARD with just £5.00 hiring dinghies and punts to the public.  Jobs were of a small scale, such as collecting and delivering punts from the Henley regatta, replacing paddles to  Skiffs and maintaining small boats for short periods of time.  Arthur Wootten charged 1 shilling for an hour’s labour.

HARRY WOOTTEN

Harry was Arthur’s brother.  A well known character in Cookham who began boatbuilding from the tender age of 10 and continued boatbuilding until he was 79 years old.

GUY WOOTTEN Snr

Son of Arthur, Guy originally took employment in the City as a Sales Rep and later joined the Boatyard in 1931.
The War Years saw a major expansion at the yard as contracts came in from the Admiralty to help with the war effort consisting of building small Cutters and Dinghies.
Brothers Arthur and Guy are famous for building the record breaking Sopranino, the smallest boat to sail the Atlantic in the 1950’s.  

PATRICK WOOTTEN

Pat left school in 1953 and entered the family business.  Pat served his four-year apprenticeship at the family yard.  Pat originated the construction of a 28ft slipper stern launch in 1989, combining both traditional and modern techniques having hand crafted mahogany above the waterline with  moulded Glass Reinforced Plastic bottom which results in a classic traditional craft.

Another specialty of Pats were the hundreds of HAMPSHIRE PUNTS he built, many for the Thames Conservancy to use for lock work and still can be seen in operation at locks today.

GUY WOOTTEN Jnr

Since the death of his father Pat, Guy now runs the Boatyard following the traditions of his family.  In 1993 Guy restored the Baby Greyhound, one of the only surviving 50ft Andrews Slipper Launches.  In recognition of over 30 years of dedication and service on the Thames, in 2007 Guy was honoured to be invited by The Queen’s Swan Marker to take part in the historic ceremony of Swan Upping; he hopes to continue in the prestigious role of Swan Upper on behalf of The Crown for many years to come.  In 2007 Guy was very proud to have his son Lee join the family business and hopes he continues the family traditions for another 100 years 

Meridan 36ft Slipper Launch Boat - Sale

FOR SALE: Meridan is a  36ft Slipper Launch built by Meakes of Marlow in 1936.
Meridan was fully restored in 2001 and she was re-vanished and re-painted in 2010.
Please call 01628 484244 for further information.

 

We offer a comprehensive service to design and build any new boat to your individual requirements.

Woottens specialise in the restoration of traditional and vintage wooden boats, employing traditionally trained and highly skilled professionals, whose experience and expertise is second to none. We welcome all types of craft and offer a full range of boat yard facilities to repairing, refits, restoring or maintaining to engineering and moorings, or we can design and build any type of launch to suit your personal needs.

Arthur Wootten - Founder of Wootten Boats Brief History

Founder - Arthur Wootten, born in 1897. He was the son of a Boat Builder and had been involved with boats since the age of ten, but in spite of this began, his working life was as an Electrical Engineer, and was one of the first people to install electricity in private houses at Bourne End.

When he learnt that a housing estate was to be built across the river from Winter Hill, Cookham Dean, he foresaw a new boat hiring enterprise. The housing estate was never build but unperturbed, he went ahead with his scheme and bought a second-hand shed and began the business with £5 in 1908 hiring our punts, skiffs and canoes and continuing with the electrical business.

Arthur had 5 children, three daughters and two sons. His eldest son, also called Arthur, joined the yard from school and his younger son, Guy, born in 1908, became a sales rep in the City before joining the yard in 1931.

In the late twenties the founders’ brother, Harry, a Boat Builder, joined the business. It was at this time the boat building began at the yard.

By the 1930’s Woottens had their own fleet of hire boats. During the Second World War contracts were placed by the Admiralty for small Cutters and Dinghies and this let to expansion of activities at Cookham Dean.

Arthur Wootten senior died on October 28th 1943 and the business passed to his sons Arthur and Guy Wootten.

The profits from the war years were reinvested. The large boat building shed which is still in use today, was erected in 1951. Apart from building river launches they started to build sailing dinghies, including some 14ft internationals.

In 1952 Pat Wootten, the son of Guy, joined the yard at the age of 15. He had helped out from an early age ferrying visitors and helping with the hire of boats. Pat served his four-year apprenticeship at his father’s yard. A fellow apprentice at Woottens was Peter Freebody.

By the mid fifties, punting and skiffing had gone into decline as dinghy sailing become more popular. Woottens turned to building performance dinghies like Flying Fifteen, Merlin Rockets and the National Twelve.

With the introduction of GRP in the sixties, Woottens build GRP Dinghies for the water authorities.

The eighties revived the need for the old skill.

Guy Wootten (son of Pat) joined the yard in 1987 after finishing his 4 year apprenticeship at Freebody & Co.

When Pat died in 1998, Guy took over the running of the yard and is now joined by his son Lee, being the 5th generation of Woottens to be working at Cookham Dean.

Few yards can boast an unbroken history of over 100 years on the same site, but four generations of Woottens have kept boatbuilding alive at Cookham Dean.

Used Boats