Tag Archives: film

Kingston Rowing Club, 1902

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Here’s another YouTube presentation of some footage made public by the British Film Institute. The film shows a number of coxed fours and a single or two, one of which capsizes, and what I take to be a working boat. But what’s the source of power here – is it a steamer, or is she just drifting with the tide? There’s steam or smoke or both coming out of a small chimney, but I’m unable to decide what’s happening here. Answers via the comment link below please!

Follow the link for more boats from the Humber Estuary.


The River Thames in 1935, and oyster fishing at Whitstable

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Colour on the Thames – footage from the Thames dating back to 1935

Here’s a sweet piece of film of the River Thames years ago spotted by ‘Carl’, who belongs to the Dinghy Cruising Association’s splendid Openboat YahooGroup. If you’re a small boat sailor I recommend it for all sorts of practical reasons, and this kind of thing is a real bonus.

But back to the film, which has been put up by the British Film Institute. Check it out for steam ships and tugs, busy bridges, some nice old footage of sailing barges motoring and under canvas in the Pool of London, and some very coolly-dressed up-stream watermen in suits and hats working some small steam boats.

PS – Do have a look this splendid footage of oyster fishing at Whitstable in 1920 that I’ve just found: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=v8pFfqfL4D8 Isn’t YouTube fun? It’s certainly better than the telly is most evenngs.

More on the book Cockleshell Canoes by Quentin Rees

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Mark 7 military canoes. Photos supplied by Quentin Rees
and published with permission

Quentin Rees’s recent book Cockleshell Canoes is a thoroughly researched and well illustrated celebration of a group of people who have become part of canoe history.

Some, such as Blondie Hasler and the team of commandos who took part in the daring Operation Frankton are already well known. Commemorated in a major film titled Cockleshell Heroes, it was an attack by ten commandos in canoes on Bordeaux Harbour in occupied France during December 1942. British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill believed the mission shortened World War II by six months, and Admiral the Earl Mountbatten deemed it as the ‘most courageous and imaginative of all the raids ever carried out by the men of Combined Operations Commands‘.

Sadly, most of the brave individuals involved were eventually captured and shot by the Germans, who at that time regarded commandos as equivalent to spies.

However, the roles of many others have previously remained unsung. In this book Rees has weaved together real-life testimonies from the stories of the courageous soldiers who used the canoes, their military commanders, and the canoes’ inventors and designers, and tells of an epic journey of progress that took canoe development took from Cornwall, all along the Southern English Coast and beyond – even to the tropical island of Ceylon.

The canoes proved to be valuable in many of the theatres of WWII, and thousands of the various models were sent worldwide, often being used by the various Special Forces, including by the the espionage specialists of Special Operations Executive (SOE).

Click here to buy a copy from Amazon – The Cockleshell Canoes: British Military Canoes of World War Two Cockleshell Hero canoes at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall.

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