A PENSIONER and former shipwright has published a book about the history of Burnham’s boat builders after more than 20 years’ research.

Peter Pearson, 79, of Hermes Drive, has published “A Century of Yacht & Boat Builders in the Town of Burnham on Crouch”, which he began researching in 1994.

Mr Pearson is a former shipwright who has worked at the Priors and William King and Sons boatyards in Burnham, totalling 14 years, as well as 27 years at North Fambridge Yacht Centre, before retiring in 2003.

He moved to Burnham in his teenage years after falling in love with the town whilst growing up and visiting his grandparents who lived there.

He was inspired to start researching the book after seeing the decline in boatyards in the town.

It contains many pictures and stories compiled from face to face recorded interviews with both the boatyard workers and designers, including hours of research from old copies of Burnham Advertisers.

Mr Pearson said: “In 1994 I was noticing that everywhere was shutting down, boatyards were coming to an end, and the shipwrights themselves were not being relocated so quickly, there weren’t many occupations they could go to, other than castings and agriculture.

“I knew then that I didn’t want the history of this amazing work to be lost, so I was encouraged by my wife and family to do this research, and write all these memories down, and it was never an effort, it has been hugely enjoyable.

“By the time I was 14 years old I was watching the ships in the river, it was then that I made up my mind that I wanted to be a shipwright.

“I was at a grammar school, and at that time being at a grammar school meant you would go onto an office job, I just wanted to come down here where I had loads of friends, and work here.

“I began working at Kings in 1957 working for £3.15 a week, this was when I realised the shipwrights and yacht builders just have this incredible quality to them, in Burnham they had lots and lots of skill.”

The book chronicles Burnham boat builders from 1890 to the 1980s, and has been printed by Blackwater Printings, with help from Donald Neale and the team at the Burnham and District Museum.

Mr Pearson said that since first publishing he has had a huge interest from Burnham residents and has had to order in more copies due to demand.

He added: “If you had told me a year ago that I would have 100 people interested in getting a copy I would have laughed, but that’s around what I’ve sold now, it’s been really surprising. Thanks must go to my family, the museum and the printers for their help.

“I was so interested in it and it was my main hobby, it was never a chore or work, I loved every minute of it.”

The book is on sale in paperback at the museum in Coronation Road, Burnham for £26.50.

People can also request a copy directly, additionally available in hardback for £70, by emailing jaspnz@hotmail.com.