Category Archives: Working boats

Montagu whaler Swan and whaler no. 124/1964

Montagu whaler 124/1964

Bristol charity Rocking the Boat Bristol member Steve Evans is rebuilding a 1964 Montagu whaler named Swan, but are short of oars, mast and sailing kit. If anyone has these they can offer, Rocking the Boat would be most grateful for your help. Email me at gmatkin@gmail.com and I’ll pass the message along.

In addition, Rocking the Boat has another Montagu whaler (built:  Portsmouth 1964, no 124) that we would like to give to someone who wants to finish its rebuild. It’s basically sound but needs a new home, and is at present lying in Bristol.

Steve has this to say about the story of Swan and whaler no. 124/1964:

‘She was reputedly built in Malta and was once owned by Berni Bruen, who wrote the Song of the Montagu Whaler (scroll down this page to find it), and later by Graham Brown in Falmouth .

‘After Graham passed away, Jonny Mills from Falmouth Marine School took her under his wing and completed some major repairs with students.

‘The story then shifts to Bristol where she now lies and is being further renovated with a possible showing at the Semaine du Golfe, Brittany next May.

‘There is much work to be done and either fabrication or sourcing of the two masts and oars to complete the project by retired chaps under the aegis of All-Aboard Watersports and Rocking the Boat Bristol.

‘The Beagle Project , based in Devonport, have been most encouraging in our project and gave us the second whaler, which sadly bwe find we cannot find the resources to complete. We are therefore looking to a group or individual who would be interested in taking her on before we have to cut her up. She was built at Portsmouth in 1964 and is numbered 124.

‘If you are interested in the boat or have any oars / sailing kit for our boat Swan, I would very much appreciate contact from you.
There will be more to follow on Swan’s Story in later writings.’

Thanks Steve! Please contact him either via Rocking the Boat Bristol (link above) or email me at gmatkin@gmail.com and I’ll pass the message along.

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News from the West Wales Maritime Heritage Society

West Wales Maritime Heritage Society member Brian King has been in touch to tell us about the society’s latest activities. Here’s what he says:

‘The society has been a bit quiet, our museum is open six days a week until the end of September, and behind the scenes we have been hard at work.

‘Our priority is to finish building our replica Tenby Lugger, Heritage, which was started by MITEC college in Milford Haven. We acquired the unfinished hull in July 2017, after the college ceased operations, and are currently working on the spars and auxiliary engine and are hoping to finish her in time for a naming event in Tenby in July.

‘We will use the lugger to take primary school children afloat as part of an education programme.

‘There were nearly 100 luggers in Tenby and ports all around, but after the steam trawlers came they were only used for tourist fishing and holidaymakers’ trips round the bay.

‘We are also building a copy of a local smaller fishing boat in the museum to demonstrate traditional tools and materials.

‘As well as maritime material, our museum also has displays of steam engines, models and local history.

‘The local scouts are building coracles in our shed. Each group will build their own and then combine for trips and competitions, and there is a programme for unemployed people to volunteer with us with the aim of improving their job prospects.

‘The Royal Naval Air Service armoured car was one of only 12 built on a Ford Model T chassis, and fought in Russia in 1916 and 17. It had a Maxim or a Vickers machine gun on the back.

‘It is not ours, but we show it because the owner does not have a display space. He bought in packing crates three years ago. The wheels and tyres are modern replacements, but most of the armour plates, engine etc is original. It is now roadworthy and will appear at Tankfest this summer.

‘We have 25 regular members, and always happy to welcome new recruits: specialist skills are not required, as there’s a lot to do painting boats and manning the museum.

‘Our Facebook page is West Wales Maritime Museum.’

Thanks Brian! Good luck with your great projects this year!

Regular readers may remember that Brian built a Barton skiff some years ago.

 

Cambria delivers her final cargo, as told by mate Dick Durham

Dick Durham was Bob Robert’s 18-year old mate when the Cambria delivered its last cargo to the port at Felixstowe. Read his piece about it on the Classic Boat website.

‘Felixstowe was the first container port in the country when it opened half a century ago and yet, as the great cranes were being built, I was aboard the vessel delivering the port’s last freight under sail.

‘Standing on the mast-deck of the 91ft Thames Sailing Barge Cambria, as the narrow dock entrance neared, was the 18-year-old mate, myself, anxiously awaiting the order to stow sail. At the wheel was the 63-year-old skipper, Bob Roberts, carefully judging the ebb which was running across the mouth of the dock entrance.

‘Cambria was already long out of her time: other sailing barges had been converted to power, houseboats or yachts, while the majority had been hulked in lonely creeks. So a crowd of bystanders had gathered to watch us sail in. This did not help my growing nervous tension. There was even a young mother who turned her pram to face the water so baby could watch, too. “Come on, Bob,” I said under my breath, “give the order.” Read more…