Significants of the Allchorn Boats
Both the Southern Queen and the William Allchorn have huge local importance due to how, where and when they were built, also the very strong and important tradition of pleasure boat trips in Eastbourne dating back to the 1800s with such names as Bates, Hide, Boniface ,Sayers and the Allchorn Bros.
The Queen is the last surviving boat to be built in Westham Village in the late 1940s, built by R Pragnell &Sons Ltd by Prannell Brothers (for the Sayers family) at Street Farm in a barn (now under a block of garages) by the old Horse pond (now Westham Village pond), she is surly the last surviving beach launched boat of her size, type and construction (clinker built) left anywhere in the country and maybe the world, that’s a big claim to make I know but you show me another, anywhere! Once she is lost to time, like so many other things you will never see her like again as there are few people capable of building such a boat of this construction and size now as they are all made of fiberglass. She was designed and purpose built with a shallow draft to enable her to come right on to the sand at low tide with her bow and her lute stern to enable her to ride up over the waves when picking up passengers and not get driven on to the beach or broached (turned sideways to the waves) and rolled about in the surf. I find it very strange that Eastbourne council allow a blue plaque saying ‘Lewis Carroll stayed here’ in Lushington Road but stands by while living, valid and currant history falls apart under their nose! The Southern Queen will attract many more people to the town than a ‘blue plaque’.
The William Allchorn owes its very existence to the Dunkirk evacuation in WW2, she was built with Government money (compensation fund) after the pleasure boat Enchantress was lost in operation ‘Dynamo’ while evacuating troops from the beach! She was built in Newhaven by Cantell, again she is the last of her kind left, built for the purpose of carrying 100 persons from the beach and I say again SHOW ME ANOTHER! Her construction is different from the Queen and quite unique now, double diagonal planking. Her stern is different too it’s a kind of canoe stern which is slightly turned up to give least resistance to the sea and ride the waves when beached. You will never see her like again in this form of construction that’s why she must be saved. I still find it strange that Eastbourne council allow a blue plaque on Tommy Cooper’s old house in Old Town but still stand by and let these two beautiful pieces of craftsmanship and local history rot away! Thousands and thousands of people have taken the trip to the Beachy Head over the years and the boats were a great tourist attraction for Eastbourne and there is no reason why they can’t do it again with the right marketing, vision and attitude.
As we know both of these grand old ladies are now all but abandoned and decaying on an Eastbourne beach and their demise must be stopped one way or another!
The project will have a principle and advisers and will be undertaken in such a way as to cut down on the on-going and future maintenance by at least 30% on the hulls thus saving money year on year into the future.
The system that will be used is an Epoxy System (Epoxy in solvent). Once any damaged or rotting wood has been replaced all the joints will be cleaned out and the entire outer hull sealed with the epoxy system, the solvent will allow the epoxy to penetrate deep into the wood so several applications will be needed, when the outside of the hull has been finished it will be coated with a standard flow coat Epoxy then white two pack paint will be applied this will give very tough and durable finish to the hull thus protecting the timber and cutting down on maintenance cost year on year. It has been suggested that the inside of the hulls should be stripped and coated with ‘tar varnish’ to allow the timber to breath as the outside of the hulls will be almost bullet proof.
I would suggest that the doors to the heads (toilets) and engine rooms be replaced with a watertight variety to prevent water ingress and the passenger deck of both boats including the fore and aft decks be replaced with BS1088 marine plywood, sealed and then a non-slip simulated teak decking put over it, this will again cut down on maintenance and help with the Health and Safety aspect (non slip) also waterproof hatches will need to be put into the passenger deck to give access to the bilges for inspection and any maintenance required, a water tight chain locker hatch is also needed in the foredeck. An automatic fire extinguisher system is needed for both vessels engine rooms along with automatic blowers to provide ventilation on start-up, also twin automatic bilge pump system will be fitted to both vessels with a manual backup pump. New electrics will need to be run along with plumbing navigation lights hull transducers for depth sounders ( one for back up ) and possible holding tanks for ‘dirty water’. Any existing life preserving equipment will need to be serviced or replaced. A new wet exhaust system for both vessels will be needed to cut air pollution and be more environmentally friendly.
New or re-conditioned diesel engines will need to be ‘acquired’ as the old ones are no longer around, newer engines will be more efficient on diesel fuel, cleaner running and the power to weight will be higher, this in turn will also help to reduce the running costs year on year. Existing fuel tanks need to be tested and or replaced with larger ones depending on the new engine fuel consumption as ideally the tanks should be able to last all day without refilling.