Boat Shed

The Boat Shed, located at the left of the building dates from around 1900, although this particular site has been a place for boatbuilding and repair since the 1820s, with the first shed built in 1844 by Hay & Company.

Today, the Boat Shed provides a perfect environment for visitors to watch boats being worked on and learn more about the traditional techniques and skills. This forms an integral part of the interpretation of Shetland’s important maritime heritage, and is particularly appropriate on a site which would have been used to build and repair boats for over a century.

2015 saw the completion of a new remote boat store with purpose built, indoor storage. The workshop attached to the store, in conjunction with the Boat Shed, gives the Museum Service enough capacity and facilities to store, maintain, and restore, the existing small boat collection. This added storage space allows boats to be moved between locations and allows space for boats awaiting restoration to be taken into the Boatshed. The Lifeboat from the Oceanic was recently moved into place awaiting restoration. (pictured right)

The Boat Shed has been home to a number of boat building and repair projects over the past few years.

Vaila Mae

The Vaila Mae was the first boat to be built in the restored Boat Shed, and the first Sixareen to be built in Lerwick in over 100 years. Launched on 21st June 2008, visitors can now enjoy rowing trips on this beautiful boat during the summer months. See our Boat Trips Page for more details.


Originally called the Maggie Helen, the Loki was actually built in the Boat Shed in 1904 and has now returned over 100 years later to undergo restoration. This is a long term project.

St Sunniva Lifeboat

The lifeboat from the St Sunniva, one of the long-serving 'Northboats' operated by P&O between Lerwick and Aberdeen was restored to it's former glory.

This was one of the smaller of the lifeboats on board, known as a jollyboat. The St Sunniva was wrecked on Mousa in 1930. This jollyboat went to Sandsayre, including Capt. Gifford amongst those on her. The owners sold the boat to William Jamieson who had her converted to a motor launch, by making her higher and an engine was fitted. This boat was restored in the winter of 2014-2015. The work involved removing all the changes after 1930, and reinstating the seating. All the later wood was rotten, and all the hundred-years-old timber is still in good order.