The restoration of the interior of this boat, a 40ft Edwardian Gentleman’s Motor Yacht, to give it its correct description, was undertaken back in the early 1990s using reclaimed pitch pine sourced from the old Southampton dock. It was finished over a period of 2 years. The interior was in keeping with that of yachts of that period, circa 1924, and offers fantastic scope for the storage of personal effects whilst living aboard and cruising.
There are now only a handful of working boats yards left on the river Itchen. Plenty of marinas, but for ‘the common working man/woman with a desire for an affordable mooring and access to a boat builder and his workshop I am afraid those days are over.
From the bridge at Cobden all the way down the river in particular on the Bitterne side of the river boat yards sat next to each other with names such as Rampart Marine and Dixon Brothers both associated with classic wooden yachts and tenders.
With this community real independent characters often with local knowledge that cannot be found in any historian’s publication somehow made a living using skills that are now hard to find. The one thing that they all had in common was an intimate relationship with the river and the two tides that it is blessed with each day.
One such Character I knew would supplement his income with catchin eels and selling them alive to the chinese community. He taught me and I too sold live eels. Today in 2018 my understanding is that eels are all but absent from the river, not because they were all caught , there seemed to be an endless supply of them, they are now absent , I have been told by reseachers at Southampton Oceanography Dept, probably because of climate change.
The point I wish to make is that with the passing of time, in one locality, in Southampton progress has swept away a way of life and the doing of things that cannot be relocated in some posh marina, the skills will no doubt be gone once the ‘old school’ has passed on. I was fortunate to have been taught just some of those skills like steam bending ribs to go in clinker boats or laminating up swept heads on cabin hatches.
How long ago was all this? The 1980s