HJ Mears restores a 1920s river launch

Ales Mears of Axmouth boat builders HJ Mears & Son has written to tell us about a recent job, that he has clearly greatly enjoyed.

Gavin:

We’ve had lots of work since we last spoke and many boats have been through our barn doors, but I thought this recent restoration may be of particular interest to you and your readers. 

She is an 18ft LOA river launch, double-diagonal spruce construction with laid mahogany decks. She is believed to have been built in the 1920’s.

Her beautiful shape evident for all to see despite her poor condition.

She’s now had the thorough Mears Boatyard treatment. She needed lots of extra strength added due to her lack of ribs and longitudinals. It would’ve been quicker to build from scratch but we were faithful to her and her original builder and reused as much of her original timberwork as feasible during her restoration.

Her original means of propulsion isn’t known but she is now 100 per cent electric and a joy to use; peaceful, powerful, smooth, simple and very responsive. I think o0f her as a a 1920’s Tesla of the Waterways!

Her owner is chuffed and looking forward to showing her off on the Thames soon. Hopefully your readers will enjoy the photos and seeing the 21st century Mears treatment being faithfully applied to something from the early twentieth century!

Merry Christmas, Alex

Thanks Alex. I think she’ll be something a little different and will surely cut a fine dash along the river this summer!

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Johnny Nance designed and built St Ives Punt

St. Ives Punt

‘It needed to be stable, so you could stand on the gunwale without tipping over, and withstand the abuse of various feral grandchildren. They didn’t want a centerboard, as the boat would be sitting on the beach at St. Ives—plus they wanted fewer moving parts for kids to get their fingers jammed. And the boat had to be pretty… ‘

Boat Building Experience with Alan Thorne, a crowd-funded community project for ages 12 to 99

Faversham’s Alan Thorne is running a crowd-sourced project that should be of interest for all sorts of people – those who want a taste of working with ply and timber or boatbuilding, or in a workshop, or who need the therapy of working with their hands or learning something new. I’d guess it might even appeal to those who just plain want to get out of the house.
To contact him, see the ad on this page.
Here’s what Alan says:
‘Building a boat, getting into it and on to the water is magic! It can be a life changing experience. Continuing from our success with Boat Camp for children and several boat building schemes with adults, Boat Building Experience is the new, exciting adventure where pairs of adults or children work with me to create Joansa,a beautiful John Welsford-design rowing boat.

‘I don’t want to charge anyone to participate. In that way anyone can come along and everything necessary will be provided. People can make a donation if they’d like to. For some it will be a therapy, others will want to learn boat building skills, many will grow in confidence and everyone will have fun as Joansa takes shape and finally floats gracefully on the water.

‘Not charging a fee means that I need to fundraise to cover my costs and to start the next course. Already I am over subscribed. Your help will mean that many people will be helped. Thank you!’