Maldon shipwrights

David Patient and James Dodds first met as shipwrights at Walter Cook & Son in Maldon, Essex in the 1970s before their lives took different paths, James to art and David to run his own shipyard.

‘Maldon Shipwrights’ combines their memories of working together on traditional wooden vessels of the Thames Estuary, David providing the narrative to James’s linocuts.

by James Dodds

Maldon on the river Blackwater in Essex has a proud tradition of building and maintaining the shipping of the Thames. In particlular the Thames Barge, a unique craft in rig and construction for carrying cargos to and from the great London docks and the shallow waters and creeks of the Thames estuary.

In 1972 aged 15 I started working at the barge yard of Walter Cook and Son with the boatbuilder Alf Last. This was followed by a year at shipbuilding school in Southampton. On return I began working alongside David Patient. He had an art college background, an amateur boatbuilding career and had resigned from teaching art in Maldon. Cook’s was then under the management of Barry Pearce & Gordon Swift. Baden Dedman was our foreman and he worked with Bill Claydon. The main work was converting wooden motor barges back from freight to sail and carrying people. The skills and tools used in this small yard would have been very familiar to Noah and his sons!

Having completed my four year apprenticeship I went off to Chelsea School of Art and then the Royal College of Art. These formative years in boatyards became the inspiration for my artistic career.

David went on to build a replica of a Gravesend shrimper ‘Marigold’ at Cook’s and then to run his own shipyard higher up the river at Fullbridge. The second half of this book shows the work I was involved with when returning after art school to work part time for David in the early ’90s.

‘Maldon Shipwrights’ celebrates our frendship and time spent working together. This book contains my linocut memories and is accompanied by David’s captions.

Jardine Press Ltd
ISBN 978-0-9934779-8-0
Paperback, 198 x 198mm, 36pp
Jardine Press 2020
Retail price: £10