Dumbarton Rowing Club Sets Sail!

West Dunbartonshire Depute Provost John Millar joined the Skylark IX Recovery Project on Loch Lomond for the official launch of two St Ayles skiffs which the Project hopes will lead to the foundation of a new Dumbarton Rowing Club.

The Skylark IX Recovery Project, which cares for the Dunkirk ‘Little Ship’ Skylark IX, built the first skiff, ‘Happy Days’, with Volunteer Trainees from Alternatives Community-based Recovery Service.

The Volunteer Boatbuilders handcrafted the 22ft skiff from scratch at the Project’s Boatbuilding Workshop at the Scottish Maritime Museum (Denny Tank) in Dumbarton, as part of their journey of recovery from addiction.

The second skiff, ‘New Beginnings’, was built by the Skylark IX Recovery Project’s friends at the Scottish Maritime Museum’s Scottish Boatbuilding School in Irvine.


At the celebration event, Depute Provost John Millar presented 14 year old Erin Brown of Alexandria with a prize voucher for coming up with the winning name – ‘New Beginnings’ – in a boat naming competition for 5-12 year olds across West Dunbartonshire. Nearly 200 local people voted on 21 names entered during the competition.

Jade West, Community Engagement Lead at the Skylark IX Recovery Project, says:

“It’s a big day for our Volunteer Boatbuilders from Alternatives Community-based Recovery Service and we’re immensely proud of them.

“They’ve developed a real sense of pride for what they have achieved in building ‘Happy Days’ and a sense of belonging in the exciting new projects to come. Together, they all truly reflect ‘Recovery through Recovery’, the aim which inspired us to help rescue Skylark IX nearly a decade ago.

“We’re also hugely grateful to the Scottish Maritime Museum for their continuing support across the Project and in building ‘New Beginnings’ for us.

“After the challenges of stopping and starting through the pandemic, we’re just thrilled to finally get our fabulous new skiffs out on the water and move closer to our ambitions for a community rowing club in Dumbarton.

“The St Ayles Skiff was designed over a decade ago to inspire communities around Scotland to come together, build a boat and reconnect with the sea. Dumbarton itself had a thriving rowing club last century. We hope to attract lots of folk, of all ages and rowing abilities, and bring the ‘spirit of Skylark’ into reinvigorating this tradition and creating a great new activity for the area.

“Now that our skiffs have had their inaugural outing, we’re keen to hear from anyone who might be interested in joining the new rowing club.”

The team at the Skylark IX Recovery Project’s Boatbuilding Workshop are now working with clients from Alternatives Community-based Recovery and Dumbarton Area Council on Alcohol on construction of two canoes, a ‘Prospector’ and a ‘Peterborough’.

Earlier this year, the Skylark IX Recovery Project began initial stabilisation work on Skylark IX, which is believed to be one of only two Dunkirk ‘Little Ships’ from the World War 2 Operation Dynamo surviving in Scotland.

The Skylark IX Recovery Project hopes to transport Skylark IX, which sank in the River Leven in 2010 and lay half-submerged for two years, from its current home at the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine to Dumbarton in coming years.

There it is hoped she will sit at the heart of a proposed £3m Spirit of Skylark Centre, which will be built in the grounds of the Scottish Maritime Museum (Denny Tank) on Castle Street.

The Skylark IX Recovery Project hopes to start fundraising for the heritage attraction, community hub and boatbuilding workshop soon.

Skylark IX’s story, from her wartime service to current role today helping people recovering from addictions, is told in ‘Hope Floats’, the Skylark IX Recovery Project’s touring exhibition.

The ‘Hope Floats’ exhibition is currently on display at the Scottish Maritime Museum (Denny Tank).

Those who are interested in hearing more about the new rowing club can email [email protected]

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