The Little Boats of England
The little boats of England, the little motor boats,
The little penny steamers, from Land’s End to John o’ Groats
Thre Brighton Belle, the Margate Queen, the Vigilant, the Lark,
The Saucy Jane, the Gracie Fields, even a Noah’s Ark,
Picked up their country’s message, that our backs were to the wall,
There is danger, there is danger, will you answer to the call?
Francis Drake, Collingwood and Nelson of the Nile,
Were on their quarter decks again, you should have seen them smile,
When all the little boats pulled out, from Dover to Dunkirk
To bring the British Army home, that was the job of work;
For how they performed their fearful task, the epic of those days
The history books will tell our sons, but let us sing their praise
And as they lie at anchor, from Newcastle to Poldhu,
With their battle scars upon them and with pennants red and blue
We say to them with grateful hearts, and voice that’s like to break
Lord Nelson would be proud of you; so would Sir Francis Drake.
By Ivor Back, 1940
Alex Mears of the long established Seaton, Devon boatyard HJ Mears has written to let us know about their latest project – this very handsome little Beer lugger. Here’s what he says:
‘She’s larch on oak, over 7ft in beam on her 16ft length so she’s a very broad boat, as ours always are.
‘Our boats are beamy because they are beach boats. To make the task of beach launching easier you want fairly flat bottomed, beamy boats with substantial bilge keels. Hence all of our boats fit this spec for the beaches around here – including Beer, Seaton, Sidmouth, and Branscombe and beyond.
‘The red top strake of the new boat will help distinguish her during lugger racing over at Beer. She could win in racing when handicaps are being applied – there are carvel boats with larger sail sizes and which also have a longer waterline length. In general, the Beer luggers are a pretty variable fleet and people, but Hannah will fit in happily somewhere amongst the fleet.
‘It’s great to be adding to the fleet of Beer luggers and continuing the traditional boatbuilding in a traditional craft. We are lucky to have appreciative customers who ultimately keep the tradition going by paying our wages!
‘She will be moored at Lyme Regis and will compete with the Beer luggers on Monday nights during the summer.
‘The owner is someone who has followed our work for many years and previously owned a Ron Lavis-built clinker boat. Ron is an Exmouth boatbuilder who trained with my grandfather. The appeal of the Beer lugger for this particular owner is the flexibility – he can sail her, he can fish from her, he can go potting for lobsters with her, go off for picnics on the beach, and so on. She is a multi purpose boat as the history of these has proved.’
Thanks Alex! We look forward to the next commission and set of photos!
Recruit was a timber-built warship built in central New York during the Great War for recruitment purposes, and the photos on Retronaut are amazing…