Percy Mitchell ferry and pleasure boat in need of care and restoration

Southern Queen some years ago. Photo by Ian Boyle – read about Dover harbour and see more of his photos

Ben Wales has written to say that he has made the trip to Sandwich to see the 1930s ferry and pleasure boat Southern Queen and reports that she’s in dire need of new owners prepared to look after.

Here’s what he has to say:

‘On Saturday I drove a round trip of 330 miles to visit the undiscovered classic wooden passenger boat Southern Queen, with the view to purchase her and restore back to her former glory.

Launched in 1935 as Heart’s Content for  Charles Cload as one of four 45ft open carvel constructed launches to operate at Plymouth, she was built by the legendary Cornish boat builder Percy Mitchell of Porthmellon.

In the 1970s Heart’s Content was sold and operated on the River Dart in Devon and sold in 1991 again to operators in Tenby and renamed Caldey Queen, and then to Dover Harbour Tours in 2001 and renamed Southern Queen.

In 2016 the Southern Queenthen went to to Sandwich River Bus.

She sadly sank on her moorings in September and was raised and brought ashore, with her future now in doubt.

She has fallen on hard times and need of urgent TLC as will in need a new stem head, apron, transom repairs and several new planks replaced as well as re-caulking.

The restoration work is still possible with the right owner or team, but sadly I have limited resources as to funding and time to undertake this work on my own.

I appeal for anyone, group or organization that could step in and undertake her restoration. She deserves to be on the National Ship’s Register and no doubt her complete history is yet to be discovered.

Interested parties are invited to contact Sandwich Marina for further details as well reasonable offers for the owner by 29th March. I believe after that date her future may well be bleak and she may be broken up.


Thanks Ben! Hopefully someone will step up!

Interesting Seasalter wreck to be studied by archaeologists

This news story in today’s Observer newspaper is great. Read it here.

For hundreds of years, the wreck of a ship known as Old Brig has lain buried in the mud of the Thames estuary.  Historians believe the vessel may have been linked to the smuggling trade that once thrived along the creeks and inlets of north Kent.

Now, after an initial exploration showed that the wreck was unusually well preserved, archaeologists are to embark on a major excavation that they hope will finally yield the ship’s well-hidden secrets.

“The potential is huge,” said Mark Dunkley, Historic England’s maritime archaeologist. “The wreck appears to be pretty complete. We’ve excavated just down to a deck level. To have a deck in situ is rare. Normally they disappear, eaten away by the weather and tides. This shows that the preservation is exceptionally good.”

Long buried in the silt of the estuary, Old Brig has in recent years been exposed by shifting sands and tides on the beach at Seasalter to the point where it now stands up to half a metre high at low water. Historians now hope to discover how it was used and what led to its beaching. A 1770 sea chart pinpoints Old Brig’s final resting-place.’