The traditional double-ended beach boat, Mizpah, returned to Staithes on the North Yorkshire coast recently, following restoration at Steve Cook’s boatyard near Whitby.
Above: The nearly completed Mizpah with new floor boards in position. One of the original planks is lying on the ground on the starboard side of Mizpah. (All photographs courtesy of James Stoker).
Mizpah was built in 1965 by the renowned Sandsend boatbuilder Tony Goodall, as Little Pal MH 2 for the late Bob Walton of Redcar. She was painted green.
When Mizpah was de-registered 30 years later, the boat moved back south to Staithes, near to her place or origin.
With passing years beginning to take their toll, two local Staithes men, Jason Micallef and Rob Shaw, became owners of the boat in 2013 when they were keen to preserve a piece of inshore fishing history.
Since then, the owners, working mainly in their spare time, have rebuilt the boat meticulously, from the keel up to the gunwales, in order to save Mizpah – a testament to the fishermen of Staithes, and all those who fished in her.
The extensive restoration work was facilitated by the fact that with the help of funding secured from a coastal regeneration scheme, together with generous donations of people associated with Staithes: Mizpah could be transported to Steve Cook’s yard in Whitby.
Mizpah, as she was known in Staithes, had a number of owners in the village, including an artist. He found the man, Willie Wright, who would prove to have saved the ageing boat for future generations.
Willie Wright, together with his brother James, became caretakers of the boat for her new and, subsequently penultimate, owner. He was famous in Staithes for his unrivalled knowledge of the village and local inshore fishing history, for having an extensive collection of postcards and model boats, and his lifelong passion for wooden boats.
A crewmember of the Staithes and Runswick lifeboat for 17 years, Willie Wright was also a member of the Men of Staithes Choir for many years. He died in November 2016, aged 83, as the long-term restoration of Mizpah was nearing completion.
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