Archives for category: Building November

Arrived back today from self-imposed exile in a cottage in the Norfolk Broads to find a hive of activity here at The November Project HQ.

The decks are being painstakingly stripped of rust and primed as part of November’s routine maintenance. We want to achieve a high quality, smart and attractive finish, which is also as tough and river-worthy as the barge itself. For £10,000 or so we could have the whole deck sand-blasted, but as part of our mission to achieve a stunning finish on the lowest possible budget and the lowest possible carbon emissions, we are painstakingly banging and chipping out the rust by hand, inch by inch across our entire 26m length.

Removing the rust leaves pocking, which requires sealing and filling. We are using linseed oil to seal, priming using red oxide, then filling with a two-part filler and following that with another priming coat of red oxide paint.

Over the top of this, once all the pock marks have been filled, the entire deck is coated with red oxide paint mixed with linseed oil, producing the glossy red finish you can see in these images.

Due to its polymerizing abilities, linseed oil used to be commonly used on its own or blended with other oils and resins as an impregnator and varnish, and as a pigment binder in oil paints, and as such is an invaluable resource in treating steel.

The November Project’s Jay Fitzsimons has single-handedly (re?)introduced it to many of the tidal Thames boat operators maintenance schedules as a way of cost-effectively sealing steel and improving the quality of the paints used on steel. The oil soaks in, acting as an effective sealant and ‘drying oil’. It looks great on bare and painted steel, and smells good too!

My Norfolk break away from the site was in order to find the space to intensively align all of our project processes with an APMP-driven methodology, which we are introducing to The November Project’s organisational processes across the board.

Guiding us is our recently introduced Project Management consultant. With so many different aspects involved in starting a new enterprise, the APMP methodology is introducing a much needed discipline and rigour to our processes which is enabling us to be more efficient working with our various legal, accounting, design and development teams, suppliers and partners, hauling us out of ‘panic’ mode and back into glorious and creative ‘comfortably stretched’ territory once again. Phew!

We highly recommend early-stage intervention of the type we are getting from our consultant to anyone taking on a multi-faceted project.


Deadline: Friday 18 November


We are currently converting a Thames barge into The November Project, a new self-sustaining centre for environmental innovation/climate change adaptation including an arts, music and exhibition space, community space and private venue, showcased eco-tech and boat building workshop overlooking Parliament and the London Eye. The entire project will be powered by tidal energy.

The barge is moored mid-river in an extremely high profile location right opposite Parliament on Westminster reach. This could provide an excellent test bed opportunity for a new/innovative product.

The goal We need a roof that can be partly or wholly removed and replaced.

The idea The concept for the roof is a versatile tensile structure, supported by a mast. We are inviting offers from companies for 100m2 of material for this. The material needs to be non-pvc and ideally highly durable. See artists impression sketch on the top left of this page.

We are open to trialling innovative materials.

Key points

  • high profile test bed opportunity
  • non-pvc material for tensile structure on the Thames
  • build location on the tidal Thames means the material needs to be able to endure/designed for this type of environment

Timeline The build has begun and providing we we find the right materials and considering this is a small-scale project we aim to complete the roof stage by the end of the year.

How to proceed Please email us on or fill in the form below, ensuring you provide a telephone number and email address and we will get back to you. Many thanks.

Welcome to our world

Who knew railings could be so satisfying? November’s railings are a prime example of how process not only creates the desired practical use but also imbues the object with its own story. Recycled, it has a kind of accessible integrity which is pretty beautiful.

Our mission with The November Project build is to show that extraordinary results are possible with an extremely low budget. Hopefully this will inspire and empower people to re-evaluate what is within their reach.

November will have a timeless, luxurious elegance. She will be built to last, with materials suitable for a marine environment and using as many found and recycled materials as possible. In keeping with this we used the fuel lines from the original diesel tanks inside November to create the uprights for the railings which will keep our visitors safe.

The railings in their previous incarnation as fuel lines

Chestnut was top of our wish list for November’s railings due to its beautiful grain, sustainability in harvest, and hardiness in the face of the fierce elements of a marine environment.

We ran a competition to see who could write the most alluring appeal for the chestnut coppice. These were placed in and around the Kent area by Mark the Organic, a Kent organic apple farmer and fruit and veg market trader – and November supporter.

We waited with baited breath to see whose ad would be answered first, until finally, whilst on his rounds in Kent, Mark spotted a farmer who looked like he might have the inside track on coppice.

Chestnut delivery

Sure enough, soon after fifty 3m lengths of 140mm chestnut coppice was delivered to our friends at Westminster Boating for us to collect.

The fact that November is moored in the middle of the river presents an interesting challenge for recieving deliveries. Westminster Boating saved the day by allowing us to unload from their pontoon.

Chestnut coppicing is sustainable because it is farmed using a natural production principle. The cycle of harvesting chestnut coppice every 15-20 years ensures that all the tree stems are maintained and never die. Kent is one of the main areas for growing and harvesting chestnut, so by sourcing it from there we are supporting the local rural economy. (With thanks to AVS Fencing for the info provided on their website.)

Being close to London means the carbon emissions associated with the supply of coppice to The November Project are low. We are lucky to have Mark Organic on the team to help us with sourcing this amazingly practical and beautiful natural resource.

We are also planning to use chestnut for some of the internal structure.

For the ropes which join the uprights, we are using a natural hemp as opposed to a polypropylene or other man-made plastic/oil based rope. For joining the 3m lengths of coppice to each other along the railings, we have settled on lap joints. This is because lap joints give us versatility on the angle of the two joining uprights.

Apart from providing a very strong join, this means we can maintain the natural curves and twists of the wood, and also reflect the curve of Novembers lines.

At the uprights, the chestnut coppice sits on a steel noggin (each one hand cut and drilled) and is screwed and bolted into place. The whole lap joint is recessed and bound in with the 8mm hemp rope. Then we’ll strip back the bark, sand by hand, and varnish with Bernard, made by Norwegian paint specialists Jotun.

Noggins in the make

Welding noggins (plates) to the uprights

38 uprights and noggins all needed cutting to length, ends squared and prepped for welding, wire brushed with an angle grinder to smooth. Each noggin was cut to shape, shaped, drilled, countersunk then welded to the end of each upright. Then each upright was drilled in two places and bevelled.

We will then apply linseed oil to the uprights, as it is the best cure for steel, is organic and is not paint. Paint is more work, more expensive and it doesn’t show the metal.

To finish, we’ll thread the 16mm hemp rope through the two mid-sections of the upright, and bobs your aunt!


Transport options are seriously laid back on a river build

Unloading the coppice from YE37, The November Project’s restored 1910 Mossel Kotter sailing boat onto November

Uprights after being welded onto the gunnels. The gunnels themselves have so far been chipped and oiled using a fast setting linseed oil. Parts of the gunnel were replaced or replated.

Experimenting with joins in situ

A visual treat awaited us on our travels as the cover of Pink Floyd’s 1976 Animals album was recreated apparently at random

A huge, huge thanks to Avy, Charlie, Chris, Lucy, Mark and Westminster Boating for their amazing help on the day.

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