By Mike Early

Some time in the 1970s, I gave £25 and a load of fire wood for a derelict hull. I was going to turn it into a steam launch.  I got Bob and Charlie Lower to fit a new transom and aft locker on for me, and then I replaced a few rotten planks, added seats and decks and a floor. About 18 years later I fitted a new coal fired boiler and an old 1890 engine and Emerald was born again.

I found quite a lot of rot during a short cruise on the river Medway in April 2011 so had to remove all the steam plant to do the repairs to the hull. I had been finding, at the end of a days steaming, that I could hardly straighten up (old age happening fast), so I decided to sell the steam plant and make Emerald an electric boat. On the 11th August she was launched on the Thames at Windsor for the first time as an electric boat with great success. Now I just turn the key and away we go; not as exciting as steaming, but it means I can carry on enjoying my boating for a few more years.  I have launched at Russell Simpsons, enjoyed a trip to Lewes, and popped out into the bay. So watch out for the born again Emerald on the river.

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'LOCAL STEAM BOAT' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'LOCAL STEAM BOAT' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'LOCAL STEAM BOAT' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'LOCAL STEAM BOAT' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'LOCAL STEAM BOAT' page
Photo: Illustrative image for the 'LOCAL STEAM BOAT' page
This gallery was added by Mike Early on 15/03/2012.
Comments about this page

What a delightful craft (Africa Queen?)
Would love something like that to play with out here.

By William Still
On 10/03/2008

Nice to see articles like this with the dedication of someone prepared to take on long term projects to bring interesting craft like this back to life, its a great credit to the restorers . Unfortunately our local repair and boatbuilding yards are all changing to meet modern needs and some interesting craft like this are seldom now seen locally .

By Chris Young
On 20/10/2008

I have just been asked to inspect a similar vessel, only slightly larger, to have a restoration refit for service on a private lake in East Sussex. Craft like these are full of character and keep the link with traditional timber boat construction alive, and also as an inspiration to new budding boatbuilders. But alas, the world is constantly changing which does not always cater for these traditions to be maintained.

By Chris Young
On 27/09/2010

Hi, At the time that sailing boats were being built in the workshop in the yard of Oxley and Bennett builders, there was a young man from Lewes working there. I just cannot recall his name at the moment. He bought a "wreck" of a very old boat and set about completely rebuilding it, a project that was to take him many years. He was carrying out this task at the Lewes Boat Club yard and I helped him to make a gadget to "steam" timbers for bending into shape for ribs and things. I lost contact with him when the boatshop ceased production, never did know if he managed to reach his goal. Reading about the above steam boat reminded of him. Something at the very back of my mind is telling me his name may have been Roger.

By Colin Brandon
On 04/11/2010

Nice pictures of your "electric boat", however the photo from the boat looking towards the incinerator just goes to show that the comments at the enquiry stating that "it would not intrude on the scene" were somewhat of an overstatement.

By R
On 15/03/2012

Here I am, late as usual. Colin, the young fella you remember was Roger Wood. My father Dick Stovell was to have been foreman of the Invicta boat building and with Roger they did all the groundwork for the project. Unfortunately dad not live to see the fruits of his work. Les Calfe took over as foreman and with Roger Wood they worked together when production of the Invicta class boats finally started at Oxley & Bennett.

I think the first boat was loaded onto a trailer, with Sid Turner driving the crane and may have been called "Invictus of Saxony". Bob Martin drove the tractor unit to the quay.

By William Stovell
On 19/03/2012

William, I can not think of a Roger Wood, working on the Invicta boats. Are you referring to Roger, the son of that other local character, Ken Wood?. The fella that worked in the boat shed was, I think, a Roger Atkinson from Lewes. He became friends with Alan "Yogi/Coke" Downes, and I have since heard, they both, ended up in New Zealand. It was an exciting moment when the first Invicta boat rolled out the yard for launching at the North Quay, and all your other details are quite correct.

By Colin Brandon
On 20/03/2012

Hi Colin, you are quite right, it was Roger Atkinson! Unfortunately Roger who was an old friend of mine, died in Nelson, New Zealand two or three years ago. I would have described him as a master Shipwright. 

By Dave Carpenter
On 17/09/2013

Hi Dave, I'm sorry to learn of Roger's passing, he was a good bloke and like you said, a " Master of his craft ".

By Colin Brandon
On 18/09/2013

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