How It All Started - Part 2 by Mike King

So - in July 2001 the Endeavour Trust was formed, and our boat was returned to its birthplace in Leigh Marina (formerly Johnson and Jago). The trip from Kent and subsequent moves were generously paid for by John Cross of the Boatyard restaurant.
Cleaning up the boat was started, with necessary gardening to remove grass and weeds from the deck (yes - seriously) and also tins, bottles, bricks and other rubbish from the bilge. A not-very-pretty deck house was also removed and there she was, ready for restoration. Two difficulties stood in our way - who could do the specialised work and how were we going to pay for it? The one remaining boat builders in Leigh were Sea King who produced many clinker built sailing cruisers, and it was decided to move Endeavour onto Strand Wharf adjacent to their shed. Once again Endeavour was hoisted up and moved.

What about the money? A number of private individuals contributed to the fund but our advisors, John Milgate and Barry Thornton, indicated that probably £100,000 would be needed and that would be difficult to find from private sources.
We contacted three potential funders - Heritage Lottery Fund, Cory Environmental Trust in Southend and Essex Heritage Trust. Quite rightly all required a full business plan demonstrating that the restoration was viable and that the boat would be used to benefit the community. David Norman, Paul Gilson and I did the necessary paperwork and presented the scheme to the relevant bodies. We were helped considerably in demonstrating our financial stability by the donation from Jeanne Wilson mentioned in our April newsletter.

So - all was go! With Peter Wexham's help Southend Council agreed to supply oak from Belfairs woods and Endeavour was fenced off for security reasons. All we needed was a start date but during one night thieves removed the fence and all the oak! Southend Council were good enough to provide replacement oak, but we were furious!
Building from new is quite a different matter from restoration and it became clear that the excellent boat builders were very unsure how to go about it. So what to do? Once again John Milgate had the answer and Endeavour was lifted up, put on her usual lorry, and moved to Great Totham in North Essex.

There, a generous land owner and classic boat enthusiast, Rupert Marks provided space in a barn and all electrical power. Two vastly experienced boat restorers Brian Kennell and Shaun White undertook to do all the work, with valuable assistance from trust members and, under the watchful eye of John Milgate, the restoration was under way... To be continued.

St Katharine Docks Classic Boat Festival

We took part in this year's classic boat festival at St Katharine Docks, forming part of the Mayor's Thames Festival over the weekends 7th-8th & 14th-15th September.

Paul had moved Endeavour to Canvey Island from where there is 'easy boarding' for our passengers. Paul with crew members Chris and Finlay welcomed six members on board.

The forecast rain held off until reaching London and everyone enthused over the stunning views offered from Endeavour in mid river. We were joined on the river and in the lock by some of the other vessels taking part, including majestic Thames barges.
The second weekend was a special celebration of 'Dunkirk Little Ships' which was highlighted through one off tours of the 'little ships' led by Ian Gilbert, the Association's Commodore.

All the boats were dressed with nautical flags and each was presented with an event pennant flag. Rod Stewart visited the festival and had an impromptu jam session aboard 'Dunkirk Little Ship', New Britannic. New Britannic is an old pleasure boat, owned by Greg McLeish, and a recent addition to the ADLS. We could not hold it against him that he had come from down under as he was passionate about his boat. But what we were taken aback with was his comments about Endeavour, "Oh mate, she's a legend! Everybody tells me about her, can I come and see her?" Once again wherever we are the Endeavour effect is there. Very pleasing but why?

Skipper Paul commented that despite the poor weather visitor numbers were fair. Importantly though it was the quality of the visitors that made the event and our participation rewarding.

It is a shame that we can't get more members to man the boat for longer periods as, with this level of interest, it is a pleasure to meet everyone.

Belfairs Woodland Centre Opening

We were delighted to accept the invitation from Essex Wildlife Trust and Southend Council to participate in the recent opening celebrations of the new woodland centre in Belfairs woods. We took along our 'roadshow' - comprising display boards, photograph albums, newsletters and various items of memorabilia for sale. 

Although the weather was dry the strong wind meant that we had great difficulty keeping everything in place, including the gazebo! Visitors were interested with the story of Endeavour including the part that oak from Belfairs woods had played in the restoration project.
BBC Springwatch presenter Martin Hughes-Games who opened the centre took the time to visit all the participants' stands and was keen to hear the story of Endeavour's historical and enduring importance to the community.

Summer Reception

Our first summer reception proved an enjoyable evening with splendid weather helping everything to go to plan on board the Wilton, home of the Essex Yacht Club. Eighty-five members and guests exchanged stories and took the opportunity to talk to officers and committee members and as Paul had brought Endeavour alongside, many went aboard to see at first hand all the facilities on offer!
We welcomed Dave Allen who had contacted us a few weeks before. Dave will not mind us reporting that he is 83 years young and has fond memories crewing on Endeavour for Harry Robinson at the end of the war when she was fishing under sail for shrimp. 

He recalls Harry's nickname, 'Fatten', and brought along a photograph of Harry taken in Buntingford, Herts. in about 1942. Harry, of course, owned Endeavour in 1940.

The Force Is With Us

In August Paul Gilson was joined on board by members of the Metropolitan Police Force and others for an estuary cruise. Unfortunately one officer found life aboard somewhat 'difficult'. 

Insp. Mick Bates commented, "On a day when the Thames was as flat as a billiard table and in 23°, this from a rough tough police officer used to high speed car chases". 

We're advised that he is not going to request a transfer to the marine unit any time soon! Paul is seen here in deep conversation with Insp. Bates, whilst the ladies enjoy a light lunch. 

Mick enjoyed the trip so much he joined us again on the return trip from St Katherine docks.

How It All Started - Mike King

Early in 2001 there was some publicity in the local press about the formation of a group to return one of the Dunkirk boats to be on permanent exhibition, possibly on Strand Wharf.

This was to be the Resolute.

Some Leigh residents were not too enthusiastic about this, because a static boat ashore would not be too exciting, and we also understood that Resolute had not been viewed to assess her condition.

So, a group decided to go to the boatyard in Kent to view Resolute and to weigh up the potential. Four of us, comprising Mike Guy (editor of Leigh Times), John Porter (vintage boat owner and funder of the Leigh paddling pool), Peter Wexham and myself, arranged to meet with Alan Stayley for advice - he had worked on the Cutty Sark - and would provide an authoritative and independent opinion. As we drove into the yard Peter Wexham let out a shout, "There's Endeavour!" and indeed there she was adjacent to Resolute.
11th January 2001 and Peter Wexham touches Endeavour for the first time in nearly 15 years.
Peter & Endeavour reunited
Peter was particularly interested because he used to part own Endeavour, but had lost track of where she was. 
Our expert Alan surveyed both boats and declared that Resolute had broken her back and was well out of shape. However Endeavour was in good shape albeit needing massive work done. 

We returned home enthusiastic about getting Endeavour back to Leigh so she could be restored to sail again rather than be a "static boat on display".

The public meeting in July 2001 was very well attended, culminating in the formation of the Leigh-on-Sea Endeavour Trust. (To be continued)

Who is this with Mike King?

They were at the Endeavour School celebrating the restoration of our boat.

It is, of course, former WBC heavyweight champion Frank Bruno!

Commemorative Cruise to Ipswich - Paul Gilson

Jeremy Squier, Chris Bailey and I left Leigh on Friday 24th May for our overnight in Brightlingsea in miserable weather; it was very overall grey with gales forecast - nothing new there then - for a trip on Endeavour. To add to our excitement we had a squall as we entered the River Colne; it rained and hailed, the sky went black and at 4pm lights were needed. We were soaked and were shivering - what should we expect for the last week in May - sunshine?
In the early hours the following day we made our way in convoy to Harwich. Here we picked some members up from the Halfpenny Pier and rejoined the flotilla with our extras on board. Escorted by the lifeboat and led by our commodore we proceeded up the River Orwell to Ipswich. This river is the most beautiful I know, the industry of Felixstowe with its prehistoric looking cranes soon gives way to stunning green sloping fields running to the water's edge. It is no wonder that Arthur Ransom was inspired to write when he sailed here in his yacht Nancy Blackett.

Ipswich MarinaThe peace was shattered by a panic phone call, a car had been stolen - one of our members' cars. His wife was very upset. Concerned that he was not there to sort it out the police were called and phones were getting hot from the conversations between husband and wife! Then almost as quickly as the problem had unfolded it was resolved. The car was parked further down the road than normal!!!
There were no further problems as we passed under the Orwell Bridge and soon entered Ipswich Lock and were given our berth numbers. Ipswich has changed dramatically in recent years, the once busy commercial harbour is now a huge marina with boats of all shapes and sizes with many being worth many millions of pounds.

As we entered the lock the sun came out and it remained with us for the next two days.

Approaching the Orwell BridgeWe were soon moored and the boat was dressed and looked a picture. With our friends moored around us people were soon visiting the small fleet. We were joined by our wives and other members who had travelled by road. Time passed and after checking in to our hotel Chris Bailey and I attended a Welcome Reception with the Mayor-Elect of Ipswich in the Council Chamber in the very grand Victorian Town Hall.
The next day was fantastic. A splendid Commemoration Service was held quay side and hundreds of guests visited the boats. We had 16 mayors from surrounding areas, including an ex-Southender originally from Thorpe Bay. After a couple of hours we played our trump card. Chris produced his squeeze box and we handed out song sheets. We became the Endeavour shanty folk and what happened next could not have been dreamed of. One of the Scottish pipers came and played along with us, the boats around were joining in with the choruses and if that was not enough two more came on board and sang with us; a lady and gentleman from another 'little ship'. What a great time - we met people we had not seen for years and made new friends - Endeavour brings people together, it is as simple as that.

The Commemorative Cruise Supper followed that evening with guests including the Mayor and Mayoress of Ipswich, along with the last surviving Dunkirk Veteran in the town, with Endeavour receiving mention in our Commodore's speech.

We returned to Wallasea the next day content that the Endeavour effect was working well. Now all we want is some sun and some good sailing weather to show her at her best.

Quayside in Ipswich - Trevor Osborne

Dunkirk veterans Bernard Sharp .
Bernard Sharp, Dunkirk Veteran
I feel very proud and honoured to be associated with Endeavour and also with the fishermen who went to Dunkirk and especially, of course, to those who never returned.

In Ipswich I was privileged to meet Bernard Sharp, the last surviving Dunkirk Veteran from Ipswich and President of the Ipswich Branch of the Royal British Legion. He was part of the British Expeditionary Force and celebrated his 21st birthday on May 30th 1940 on Dunkirk Beaches.

He told me that he was picked up by a boat from Leigh-on-Sea but unfortunately could not recall the name. He was transferred on to a destroyer or similar ship but on return to England the ship was bombed and he was in the sea again! After this, quite understandably, his memories are a little fuzzy but he was picked up and found himself on a Hospital Ship.

After the war he came to Leigh to find out anything about the boat which may have rescued him. Although he spoke to locals he could not find any more information. I think this is a really lovely piece of history and the thought that he may have been evacuated by one of our Cockle Boats really struck a chord with me. When I hear a story like this it makes me feel proud to think ordinary people such as Leigh fisherman helped shape the future of the war, unfortunately at a cost.

Therefore we must keep the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships alive and take care of our Leigh's LAST surviving little ship - ENDEAVOUR!

Cockling Old and New

Endeavour passing the pier viewed from on board Renown
Trevor Osborne, far left, feeling the weight of yokes and empty baskets and busily raking cockles into the lavnet.Endeavour joined with the modern cockle boat Renown to illustrate modern cockling methods with those of yesteryears. Renown skippered by Andrew Lawrence and crewed by Graham Osborne also had on board Radio Essex's own Peter Holmes. Peter interviewed Andrew and Graham and also Roy West and Trevor Osborne about their experiences cockling.

Peter included extracts of these interviews on his Saturday morning breakfast programme. Filming took place from Endeavour and Renown. These will be merged and edited to create both an archival record and an aide to our blossoming community and educational programmes.

Andrew Lawrence displays the cockles caught by suction dredging.Andrew and Graham landed cockles using modern suction methods and a few were boiled and sampled on board. "Delicious!" said Peter between mouthfuls. Both boats anchored off Thorpe Bay and when the tide went out were joined by Roy and Trevor who had 'walked off' and enthusiastically took to the task of hand raking using rakes and lavnets. The cockles were loaded into baskets which were hooked onto the yokes and carried to the boat. It was amusing to see Peter try his hand, puffing and blowing under the weight.

Two officers from Kent & Essex Inshore Fisheries & Conservation joined us to assess the cockles for the coming season and are keen to use our filming for their own purposes.


April Newsletter

We are very grateful to two members who informed us that the couple in the photograph in the last newsletter* with Margaret White are not Melville and Doris Chadwick. We very much regret our error and would love to be able to correctly identify them. Answers to the editor!

* Sorry, but this newsletter is not available online at the present time.

Maritime Heritage East

We participated at the Maritime Heritage Fair in June which was held in the new Pier Cultural Centre. The event featured exhibitors from Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk, and our stand, pictured, attracted the keen interest of visitors.

Dates for the Diary

We will again be participating in the Classic Boat rally in St Katherine Docks spanning the weekends of September 7th, 8th - 14th, 15th.
We plan to sail up on Friday 6th and if you wish to be on board please indicate your interest by telephone to Mike King or by email to Peter Dolby.

This year's AGM is on Friday 25th October - further details will follow.

Brian Kennell Boatbuilders

The shipwright responsible for Endeavour's restoration, Brian Kennell, has been in touch to tell us that he now has a website. Brian Kennell Boatbuilders.