The boatyard’s history

In 1974 the Viking Ship Museum stored its smaller collection of traditional Nordic vessels in Kattinge Værk, approximately 6km west of Roskilde. It was a great relief when the museum was able to buy Roskilde Boatyard in 1981, with the support of Roskilde Municipality, Roskilde County and the Egmont H. Petersen Fund. This was the ideal setting for the collection. With its proximity to the Viking Ship Museum, it was easier to include the boats in the exhibition.

The new location of the collection meant it was used more, and this increased use led to more wear and tear and damage needing repaired. At the same time, the collection was growing and it became clear that the maintenance of the many craft required a boatbuilder. In 1985 we succeeded in creating a boatbuilder position, which was filled by Freddy Kristiansen, who had himself been an apprentice in the boatyard in the 1940’s.

The story of Roskilde Boatyard begins with boat master Jens Peder Alfred Jensen, who, in 1899, took over his father’s house on Strandgade with the strand area in front. At the same time he acquired his father’s commission as bathhouse owner and renter of boats. He soon began building boats under a lean-to on the shore. In 1902 Jens Peder Alfred Jensen had a son, Knud. At the beginning of the 1920's, Knud Jensen built his first pleasure craft in an annex of the lean-to. In1938 he bought the boatyard from his father and continued the business under the name A. Jensen and son. Until Knud Jensen's death in 1961, a long line of fine pleasure craft were built. In 1961 the boatyard was bought by Hilmer Jensen in Hillerød who, along with the American Spignese, ran the business under the name H. A. Jensen & Co. Boatbuilders Inc. A/S. In 1965 the boatyard was bought by the public company Roskilde Boatyard A/S, comprised of Klaus Baes, Søren Thorsen and Frederik Hansen. Through the 1960’s and 70’s, it was mainly glass fibre boats which filled the order book. But due to the general stagnation within the industry, the orders became few and far between and the business closed. The lean-to was leased for repairing boat engines, until the boatyard was bought in 1980 by the importer Arne Nielsen and the manufacturer Knud Reidl, who sold it one year later to the Viking Ship Museum.

For 16 years, the boatyard on Strandgade was the setting for work on the Viking Ship Museum’s boat collection and exciting projects, not least the Roar Ege project from 1982 to 1984 and the restoration of the eel drifter Viktoria. 4 boatbuilders have been trained here. Hundreds of boat society members have spent undisturbed working days here in the summer months, and thousands of school children have taken a tour of the boatyard, before crossing the slender wooden bridge, jumping into the boats and putting to sea on the fjord.

In 1997 the Viking Ship Museum left the boatyard on Strandgade. The building was transferred to Roskilde Sailing Club which built new buildings on the site. One history ends and another begins. But all things are linked, and the new history can be traced back to the man that began the boatyard’s story: Bath house master Jens Peder Alfred Jensen. His love of boats was not limited to building, maintenance and renting: In 1905 he was a co-founder of Roskilde Sailing Club, so perhaps it is fate that the sailing club moved into Jensen's old site.