Shipbuilding at the Head

Shipbuilding took place all along the river. Thomas Winslow, a shipbuilder from Assonet, bought land east of The Landing. He was the master carpenter and namesake for the last large vessel to be built at the Head, the Thomas Winslow. Built in 1828, it was 135 tons, 73 feet in length, breadth 21 feet, depth 10 ft, with one deck, two masts, a square stern, no galleries, and no figurehead. The owners of the Thomas Winslow are listed as: Peleg Peckham, Stephen Howland, Thomas Winslow, Benjamin Seabury, Levi Gifford. Other whaling vessels were brought to the Head for repairs, one being the Industry, 94 tons.

There is very little first-hand information about shipbuilding activities at the Head. Curtis Peirce, a resident of the Head of Westport in the late 1800’s, provides one of the few descriptions of the village in the mid-19th century:

“Going down upon the Landing which the proprietors had laid out some years before, we find a busy multitude. South of it are two vessels in the course of construction, further south, the Landing is covered with hundreds of cords of wood which the farmers have drawn and exchanged for dry goods, groceries, rum and tobacco. Further south in Mr. Parker’s yard, a vessel is being constructed. Crossing the bridge, two long tiers of wood are piled up as far down as the 2nd watering place where the Phebe Ann, the only vessel ever built on the east side, is being finished. Mr. Wm. Lamb is putting up the rigging.”