The Flood and the Snow

There has been much television and newspaper coverage of the floods, 60 years ago, that affected much of the Essex coast including, of course, Canvey Island.

David Johnson recalls his father telling him of the telephone call he received late that evening from the police warning him of the very high tide expected that night. He went to Johnson & Jago's yard to see the railway line at Leigh Station under water. The water was rising in the boatsheds and was in danger of lifting the boats off their cradles and in the smaller shed through the roof. It was decided to drill holes in the hull of the wooden boats to allow them to fill with water and hence remain on their cradles.

Michael Dolby remembers being one of many from Leigh who launched their dinghies to help evacuate Canvey residents.

What has not featured so much in the news is the snow that fell 50 years ago on Boxing Day 1962 with the freezing conditions remaining for many weeks. It was so cold that the sea froze!

Wiggins Family

Now living in Blackheath, Chris is to be seen
proudly wearing an Endeavour T shirt.
One of the enjoyable consequences of our restoration of Endeavour is how people with connections to the boat have contacted us. Recently a family of Walkdens visited Mike King, and a new family tree was opened up.

Before the Johnson & Jago partnership carried out boat building in Leigh, our Endeavour was built by the predecessors Cole & Wiggins and Chris Walkden, pictured, is the granddaughter of Charles Wiggins. Soon after building Endeavour, the Wiggins' moved to Great Wakering, and some of his family worked at what is now Suttons boatyard.

Chris's uncle, Joe, formed a partnership with Suttons as well as operating a trawler which was part of the white weed industry after the war.

Endeavour is Historic!

We always realised that, but now she has been officially recognised as such. The National Historic Ships UK is a body set up by the government's Department for Culture, Media and Sport to maintain a register of ships that meet a rigorous check that they demonstrate a particular type of craft or have other historic connections.

A letter from them on January 15th stated that "Endeavour is a vessel that merits inclusion in the register" and wishes us every success.

The defaced red ensign
There is no financial assistance available, but we are on a list available to film or TV companies that may need to hire authentic vessels. We are able to fly a special defaced* red ensign to signify our status. Two other local craft on the list are the barge Tollesbury and the paddle steamer Medway Queen

* Defacement is a term used in heraldry and vexillology to refer to the addition of a symbol or charge to another flag

Educational Programme

Peter shares a 'yoke' with an enthusiastic pupil at Chase.
Our educational programme which had so far involved Primary and Junior school children has now evolved to include Secondary schools with Peter Dolby's visit to Chase High in Westcliff.

The PowerPoint presentation has been refined to engage children of an older age with links to British Pathe newsreels of Leigh cockling and the Dunkirk evacuation added. The pupils were years 9 and 10 (13 to 14 years) but included a six former, Alex Brice, who is very interested in local history.

Alex asked whether we knew of a veteran of the evacuation she could talk to. We are most grateful to Frank Grove, an Honorary Life Member of the Trust, for allowing Peter, Alex and Chase's Head of History, Victoria Lang to visit him at home. You can read her report here.

The Day I Met A Dunkirk Veteran - Alex Brice

Frank with his Dunkirk Medal
Before meeting Frank Grove, I knew little of Dunkirk and the "little ships", however when I spoke to this remarkable man I soon learnt to forget what I thought I knew about war. Less about honour, duty and glory and more about real men with little training doing their best to stay alive, wading through mud and occasionally getting caught with their trousers down.

From a young age I read books about historic events and wars but they never prepared me for the heart swelling tale Frank had to tell. The nightmares, the losses, the friendships won and lost. You would have thought after this entire ordeal in Dunkirk that men would stop and settle down for a short time but what I never realised was how short of time they really were. After being interrogated due to accidentally leaving some uniform behind, this wounded hero had 24 hours leave. That's less than a weekend before carrying on in other places across the globe.

Frank and Alex reflect after the account of
graphic experiences in France and Belgium in 1940.

What needs to be taken from Frank's chilling story is that although men were lost on the fields and sea, the rescue on the beach was a success. Every day people from small towns came together to rescue their countrymen and they did better than ever expected, even with all the obstacles, which is worth more than a medal that the soldiers had to pay for*, that is living proof of the country supporting their heroes no matter what. As a teenager I am always looking for inspiration to believe in the good side of bad situations and this is a prime example of something I will definitely take with me.

* Frank is pictured with the medal referred to above. This is the 1940 Dunkirk Medal awarded, with document, to the French defenders of the Dunkirk pocket but expanded in 1970 to include most of the British who served in the Dunkirk sector. Frank was one of the last to be evacuated and cannot recall the name of the boat but it was similar to a Thames barge and took him all the way back to Ramsgate.

Community Programme

The story of Endeavour has kept Peter Dolby busy over the last few weeks with five talks; to the Society of St. George, the Crossing Boundaries - Thursday Group, the Westcliff Probus Club, the Chelmsford Branch of the Inland Waterways Association and the Crowstone St. George's URC Ladies Fellowship.

More talks are booked for the coming months including one in 2014!

Where is Endeavour?

Endeavour, as shown here, is snugly berthed on a pontoon in Leigh marina sporting her new cover. Made by Windward Sails of Leigh it has been carefully designed to keep out much of the winter weather but at the same time allowing the air to circulate underneath. This should reduce deck maintenance at fitting out. When the weather eventually improves she will be lifted out and the maintenance work will commence. If you have some spare time and want to help please contact Finlay who will be pleased to hear from you.

If you ever wondered how your Leigh ward councillor spends his time outside the chamber and when not busily involved on ward matters he is more often than not seen in the vicinity of a tea room or, as seen here, making a new running mooring for the dinghy. Peter is working furiously to finish before his wellies get wet.

How Many Endeavours?

Grateful thanks to the member who passed over this copy of Port of London magazine, published ten years ago. The two Endeavours visited London at the same time and, at this time, our own Endeavour had recently left Strand wharf for her restoration at Great Totham. Hence three Endeavours on the Thames at the same time was missed by a few months! 
The Endeavour had just finished a cruise for American tourists visiting historic European ports. HM Bark Endeavour is the replica of Captain Cook's famous ship and first visited London on her maiden voyage in April 1997.

Events 2013

On 25th to 27th May there is the 'little ship' return to Ipswich for the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships' Annual Commemorative Cruise. This will include a service held dockside on Sunday 26th May commencing at 1100.

Preparations are in hand for Endeavour to attend and there will be places available on board for members. We anticipate offering three different places; for the whole trip which will require hotel accommodation, the outward leg (Leigh to Ipswich) and the homeward leg (Ipswich to Leigh). More details will be issued shortly and as we expect an enthusiastic response from members you may wish to let Mike King know in advance of your interest.

We are working on a summer reception at which we plan to have Endeavour alongside a pontoon at the Essex Yacht Club

Opportunities will be available to members to go on board, talk to officers & committee members and share a glass on the Wilton. The provisional date is on Thursday 18th July.

Following on from the highly successful annual dinner held last year at the Estuary Club we are delighted that the Sunday lunch at the same venue on 24th February has also proved popular.  Linda and Finlay Marshall reported that we were sold out within days.