The Skylark IX Community Tapestry

The Skylark IX Community Tapestry celebrates the life of Skylark IX, our ‘Dunkirk Little Ship’, from 1934 up to her new role today, inspiring those recovering from addictions or facing social isolation across West Dunbartonshire.

Through the Tapestry, our Skylark IX in Stitches group and members of our wider community bring Skylark’s spirit and her story of resilience and hope to life over 12 vibrant imagined scenes. Hidden in each sits a small stitched heart representing the love people have for Skylark and the Project has for the community.

The Skylark IX Community Tapestry is extra special. It tells Skylark’s story through community voices – voices which are not always captured in mainstream exhibits.

Enjoy the Skylark IX Community Tapestry as it tours West Dunbartonshire.

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A Story of Hope and Resilience






This is the first time I’ve made pictures in fabric. As the tapestry progressed, I realised what a historical project it is. It’s such a nice way to remember Skylark and the monumental journey that wee boat made.”                                                                                                                        Stitcher Margaret

Shared Personal Stories

This fabulous visual storybook, which has been made mostly of recycled fabric, thread and yarn donated by the community and using wooden battens crafted by our Community Boatbuilders, was created as part of the nationwide Year of Stories.

Each stitcher added their own personal stories and creative ideas along with symbols of Dumbarton’s history.


“I thoroughly enjoyed working on the Skylark Tapestry. Due to a bereavement, I did a lot of the early stitching at home. Without knowing it, being involved with the group helped a lot. Since then, it’s been great working together with everyone.”  Stitcher Sandra





Good for Heart and Mind


Hand stitching and embroidery are both incredibly soothing, mindful activities which help calm the mind by focusing on the present. Each week, many of our stitchers told us they felt calmer and less anxious as they embroidered.” 

Tapestry Lead and Textile Artist and Historian Suzanne




The Skylark IX Community Tapestry follows our earlier community mental health and well-being textile projects – the 2020 Skylark IX Lockdown Quilt and our 2021 Make Do and Mend workshops for adults and children.

Working together on an activity rooted in our shared heritage has been for many of our stitchers a much-needed safe space to grow in creative confidence, gain life skills and make friendships as part of their recovery from the pandemic.

Over the 14 month project, our stitchers, who were mostly total beginners, successfully mastered the traditional but fading life skills of hand stitching, embroidery and appliqué.



“During Covid, I felt very isolated. Working on the Tapestry and meeting new people has helped my mental health. Although health problems have meant it very difficult to stitch at times, I’ve also enjoyed watching others growing in confidence with their stitching and seeing the Tapestry progress.” Stitcher Fiona



Working Collaboratively

“Something I really enjoyed and learned from the group experience is how important it is for people to work together collaboratively and enjoy a little positive peer pressure. Making the Skylark Tapestry, everyone has felt a sense of purpose – It’s a really powerful tool we underestimated.”  Skylark IX Community Engagement Lead Jade



“Our community in stitches group has grown in social and creative confidence over the year, developing skills and friendships. What they’ve achieved individually and collectively is fantastic. Everyone has brought so much creativity and positivity to the Skylark Tapestry. They embraced Skylark’s story and added their own touches giving the finished tapestry so much personality!”

Tapestry Lead and Textile Artist and Historian Suzanne


The Tapestry Panels

Panel 1 – All Aboard the Skylark IX     1934               

Bolson’s Shipyard in Poole, where the gleaming white seaside pleasure boat Skylark IX was built.

Panel 2 – Dunkirk Little Ships, ‘Operation Dynamo’     1940       

Here, a detailed, embroidered Dunkirk Veterans Association badge and life ring signify the rescue of 338,000 Allied soldiers.

Panel 3 – On the Water, Bournemouth     1945-47

Postwar, Skylark sails once again against eye-catching beach huts created from appliquéd vintage fabrics.

Panel 4 – ‘The Long Way Round’, Morecambe     1948

Skylark embarks on her longest voyage sailing 900 miles with a new owner, from Bournemouth to Morecambe.

Panel 5 – ‘Skylark will sail again!’ Storm Damage     1951

Embroidered high waves on the Morecambe coast evoke the time Skylark broke free from her moorings suffering almost fatal damage.

Panel 6 – Pleasure Boat Trips, Portobello     1954

In this imagined seaside scene, Skylark floats on the waves in front of the Skylark café, sandcastles and ice cream cones.

Panel 7 – National Rail Strike, Granton/Burntisland     1955

Here, The Forth Bridge represents Skylark’s time as an emergency ferry.

Panel 8 – Sweeney’s Cruise Co., Loch Lomond     1972

The tree in this panel is made up of individual embroidered leaves crafted by our stitchers and people across the community.

Panel 9 – ‘Lest We Forget’, Remembrance Trips     1979

Set against Ben Lomond, this scene remembers the annual Skylark Remembrance trips during which Veterans scattered poppies on Loch Lomond. Each appliquéd poppy is unique.

Panel 10 – Above and Below Water, River Leven     2005-2012

This abstract design weaves Skylark’s retirement, sinking and rescue together with Dumbarton’s industrial and social history. References include the world-famous Turkey Red dye manufacturing plant and Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald, who married in the town.

Panel 11 – Skylark Dumbarton, Recovery Trust     2013

Historic landmarks such as Dumbarton Rock and riverside herald Skylark’s new adventure in Dumbarton with the Skylark IX Recovery Project.

Panel 12 – Community Stories, Year of Stories    2022

In our final scene, Skylark’s damaged and aged hull reminds us of her long and sometimes challenging life and her new role as a symbol of hope and resilience for people across West Dunbartonshire.


The Skylark IX Community Tapestry was made possible by

our dedicated stitchers, our funders and supporters.

Thank you to our Skylark ‘In Stitches’ Embroiderers – who worked under the guidance of textile artist and historian Suzanne Marshall and our Community Engagement Lead Jade West – Louise Brown, Claire Cameron, Christine Campbell, Fiona McClymont, Sandra Cross, Nina Greenoak, Euan Greenoak, Corinna Lacey, Emma Little, Suzanne Marshall-Smith, Nancy Murie, Carol Murray, Heather Oliver, Margaret Reid, Jade West. Community Embroiderers – Heather Ashman, Lottie Barker, Alexander Calderhead, Janet Cameron, James Currie, Every Voice Community Choir, Dumbarton, Rosemary Harvie, John McMahon, Rachel Robb, Christine Robertson, Anne Warren. Young Embroiderers (Under 13) – Dale Ashman, Eve Greenoak, Keira Greenoak, Mirren McMahon, Hannah McPhail, Fallon Robb, Lochlan Robb, Amelia Smith, St. Patrick’s Primary, Dumbarton. Funders & Supporters – Community Mental Health and Well-Being Fund; Alternatives Community-based Recovery, Dumbarton; Scottish Maritime Museum, Denny Test Tank; Lennox Evangelical Church, Dumbarton; Fabrics & Finery’s, Helensburgh; Thread & Wool Shop, Dumbarton; Cpt. Bryan Warren; and the Skylark IX Recovery Project Boatbuilding Team.