The wreck of the George Murray – was she a Thames barge?

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lynher, thames barge, scoter, jan carpenter, cornwall, wreck

lynher, thames barge, scoter, jan carpenter, cornwall, wreck

Jan Carpenter has written in to ask for information about this local wreck. Does anyone have any answers for him please?

‘Hi all, looking for any info about what’s said to be a Thames barge named the George Murray, which is now a wreck lying in Forder Lake just off the River Lynher in Cornwall. However, I’m thinking that it may not be a Thames barge.

‘There have been several hypothesis for this wreck and several different names have suggested, but the locals seem to remember her as the George Murray. However I suspect she wasn’t a Thames barge because I cannot find any trace of a barge called George Murray anywhere! I was hoping your website may jog a few memories or direct me to somewhere I can find lists of vessels I have not yet come across…’

‘Kind regards, Jan

‘PS I have had three 40ft larch logs delivered for the planking of Scoter and a fine selection of oak knees!’

I should explain that Jan is the new owner of the important Maurice Griffiths-designed Scoter, and that his postscript is great news for anyone interested in seeing her afloat once again.

As for the George Murray – from the look of her she certainly could be a Thames barge, and given the thousands that used to work in the Thames, I’d guess there could easily have been some about which there’s little documentary evidence left today. Would the PLA’s archives include some information, I wonder?

For more on Scoter, click here and scroll down!

More old photos of Scoter

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scoter, Count de la Chapelle, idle duck, bawley, lynher, maurice griffiths, wildfowling

scoter, Count de la Chapelle, idle duck, bawley, lynher, maurice griffiths, wildfowling scoter, Count de la Chapelle, idle duck, bawley, lynher, maurice griffiths, wildfowling scoter, Count de la Chapelle, idle duck, bawley, lynher, maurice griffiths, wildfowling

Doug Grierson has sent in some more old photographs that will no doubt delight the large numbers of people who have been following the Scoter story. Thanks Doug!

For more on this famous old bawley-derived yacht that was so admired by Maurice Griffiths and which passed through a long line of owners including artist Colin Grierson and son Doug, click here.

The first image is from a postcard sent by an earlier owner of Scoter to a recipient in Essex in 1907; Doug doesn’t know how or when it was passed to his mother.

The two photos of Scoter from 1994-5 at Woodbridge and Maldon show later coach roof and original windlass and circular fore-hatch; the final item is a scanned image of a water-colour by Colin Grierson dated 1932 showing the rig she had when he bought her in late 1930.


Scoter is being restored – does anyone have information or photos that might help?

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Scoter in early 2010

Jan Carpenter has written in to report that he has acquired Scoter – the boat from which Maurice Griffiths took much of his inspiration for the design for Idle Duck.

Idle Duck belongs to a friend, and I have posted photos of her once or twice, while  Scoter has come up in comments on a post about boats used for wildfowling.

A beamy 14-tonner, Scoter was built in 1894 with shallow draught, a transom stern and a heavy iron centreboard and was originally rigged bawley-fashion.

I don’t yet know for what purpose she was originally built, but we do know that some time after she was built she belonged for a time to a leading wildfowler, and it’s said that with two guns mounted on each side of the foredeck for a period she became the terror of the Essex marshes in misty weather.

Jan acquired Scoter because he felt compelled to save her from being burned. Here’s what he says:

‘I’m researching the maritime history of the River Lynher in Cornwall and was made aware of her lying on one of the Lynher’s many tributaries. I felt compelled to save her and have since found out her historical significance, which led me via a Google search to the comments on your website… She’s now safe on dry land and soon to be covered for a full restoration.

‘Any info or images of her in the glory days would be gratefully accepted. So far I have info from Lloyds Register, a copy of a article by Griffiths that talks about the Scoter in relation to Idle Duck and a copy of the book Coastal Adventure by John Wentworth Day.’

In the series of comments mentioned earlier Idle Duck owner Bob Telford reveals that Wentworth Day’s book describes the owner of the original Scoter, a certain Xavier Victor Alfred Octave de Morton, Count de la Chapelle, co-founder of the Wildfowlers Association.

I’m sure we all wish Jan well with his project. If anyone has any information that he will find interesting, encouraging or useful, please send it to me at, and I will pass it on. He hasn’t yet revealed whether the restored Scoter will be complete with an impressive set of guns however…

The Griffiths article linking Scoter with Idle Duck has been made available by the Eventide Owners Association; the particular link of interest is here.

PS Don’t miss the comments below – some really good information has been coming in, some of it from a previous owner.

PPSScoter is now being restored by John  Owles’s company Roving Commissions. See more on the Roving Commissions website.