The Repus is an old fishing coble that was found in bad condition in South Gare. It turned out that the boat had once belonged to a fisherman from Skinningrove who had died in the 1980s. It was decided that the boat be brought back home, repaired and put back on the coast with two carved figures inside it.
The coble is a type of boat particular to the North East. Its flat bottom means it can land and launch easily from the region’s shallow, sandy beaches, while the high bow protects fishermen from the many storms that the North Sea brings.
The carved figures that stand watch in the boat represent and memorialise the many sailors lost at sea in the treacherous waters off the North East coast.
The piece was created by chainsaw sculptor Steve Iredale and fellow sculptor Richard Baker, and was made possible by Tommy Evans and Barry Hunt from Skinningrove Link Up, Kilton Area Committee, Loftus Town Council, Redcar & Cleveland Council and Boulby Potash Mine, as well as many local people.
For more on traditional fishing in the area, I recommend Carmen Marcus and Kev Howard‘s photo/podcast project, The Catch – presented by Redcar Palace – which celebrates some of the traditions and stories associated with the industry.
Thanks to my old colleague Jane Rogers for the photos of Repus.