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Sailmakers are another traditional dockyard trade. In the days of the sailing navy they made the sails for the ships. As steam and later diesel engines replaced sails, the sailmaker's work changed. Modern sailmakers work in canvas and heavy plastic to create a variety of items needed by ships.

Sailmaker marking canvas
Sailmaker marking canvas (BDFL)

Ships serving in the tropics needed canvas awnings to provide shade, so the sailmakers prepared these. Sailmakers made canvas "dodgers" which are screens that are put up on very exposed parts of ships to protect the sailors from the wind. They also created all the canvas covers for boats, ship fittings, guns, and radar aerials. Another role that the sailmakers took on was to repair and test inflatable dinghies.

Sailmaker (PRDHT)

The sailmakers worked in the sail loft. Originally they needed a large space to work in to spread out the sails they were working on. Even when working on ship's awnings, they still needed space because awnings for battleships are large so they needed a huge area to set these out.

Large arm sewing machine
Large arm sewing machine (BDFL)

Sailmakers worked with large, heavy duty sewing machines. These were really huge machines, which were on a runway. The runway turned as the sailmakers stitched the canvas to take it away because it was too big to pile up behind the machine.