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.