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Seeking a new future for coracle man Peter's workshop

South Shropshire | News | Published:

For years it has been home to a world-renowned coracle builder but now a village's former infant school is empty and the public are being invited to pitch ideas for how it might be used.

This weekend the doors will be thrown open on the building in the village of Leintwardine, at the rear of the community centre complex off High Street, until recently the base and workshop of historic boat making guru Peter Faulkner.

The committee that runs Leintwardine Village Hall and Community Centre is calling for ideas as to what it could now be used for – although a bid for the village's own craft-beer-producing micro-brewery is probably off the table.

Leintwardine's former Infant school is now empty and in need of refurbishment

The Leintwardine Centre complex is based around the former main school at the village near Ludlow, which along with its 'reading room' next door houses everything from a large hall and separate meeting room with catering facilities, to Leintwardine Community Library, and is home to groups such as am-drammers the Leintwardine Players and Leintwardine History Society.

But behind the main school is a smaller infants school building, which has now reverted to the ownership of the Leintwardine Centre committee.

Secretary Terry Clough said: "We've recently recovered the former infants school building behind the main hall, which has been in use as a coracle workshop for the last umpteen years.

"We've begun the process of preparing a specification for the work to be done to bring it back to good condition, after which we'll start applying for grants.

"What we need then is somebody to take it over and use it.

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"There were mutterings about a micro-brewery at one point, but that idea seems to have evaporated, sadly."

Peter Faulkner in one of his coracles

He said to help generate idea the building will be open to visitors from 10am to noon on Saturday, to coincide with the centre's usual coffee morning.

"Even if you don't want to take it over yourself, you might have an idea as to what it might be used for, so do come and have a look," he said.

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Committee member Malcolm Turner said the building was in a bad state and would need some investment.

It was a good opportunity, but also sad to see Peter go, he said.

Peter Faulkner, Paul Kennedy, Marjorie turner, Malcom Turner, Robert Cock and Richard Sudworth

"Peter is in his seventies, he has retired. He is quite well known, not just locally but internationally," he said.

Mr Faulkner has been a leading light in the revival of the ancient craft of making the little round boats that were once common on rivers such as the Teme and the Severn.

He first built his Teme coracles in the late 1980s, after visiting Ironbridge coracle maker Eustace Rogers for tuition and guidance, and went on to make a living as a maker of traditional coracles, as well as running courses and writing about his expertise and experiences navigating the rivers of the British Isles in the tiny vessel.

He inaugurated coracle regattas at Leintwardine in the 1990s, drawing enthusiasts from across the county and beyond, and in recent years worked with the likes of James May and Richard Hammond on BBC television.

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