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.

Ben

Thanks Ben! Hopefully someone will step up!

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Building a new traditional fishing boat for Dungeness

This is something amazing. Somewhere in Kent, retired shipwright Eric Paine and his friend Len are building a traditional South Coast fishing vessel. When they launch it off Dungeness, Eric believes it will be the first new boat of its type to sail off that beach in 45 years.

There’s a mass of details in these photos, and there is a huge sense of history attached to so many of them – quite a few would have been recognisable to Viking boatbuilders of long ago.

The whole thing is being done by eye and three moulds.

Notice the photo of the boat they’re working from – one key difference between it and the new boat is that the new one will have wheel steering rather than a tiller; otherwise they will be very close.

Notice also the long lath above the boat showing where the sheerline is to be, and the bilge pump, which I gather was something apprentices made many years ago.

I’m sure you’ll all joing with me in wishing great good luck to this fabulous project and a long life for the new boat!

Who would like to rescue lovely Percy Mitchell ferry Hauley 3?

Boatbuilder Kyle Abingdon is trying to save Hauley 3, which was built by Percy Mitchell at Mevagissey in 1939, and has a typically lovely Mitchell hull-form.  She’s the old ferry from Dartmouth. 

Essentially a wooden tug boat, she is 40ft long and in imminent danger of being cut up. Kyle says she’s free to a good home. 

She needs a lot of work, including re-fastening and about 45% re-planking, a new deck and engine, and of course a new deck, superstructure and engine.

It’s a lot, but as Kyle points out, she’s a particularly beautiful historic vessel. Contact Kyle at kyleabingdon@yahoo.co.uk .