An 1890s beautiful wooden dinghy is the stunning centre piece in The Clipper Restaurant at the renovated Relais Henley at the Red Lion and has been loaned to the hotel by Hobbs of Henley family.
It has brought together a historic connection between the hotel and the boating company as the boat was originally built by Shepherd’s (the largest Henley boat builder at the time) who also owned the Red Lion hotel. Hobbs bought Shepherd’s in 1917 and kept the boatyard on the Wargrave Road but sold off the hotel a few years later.
Grace was invited by Jonnie Hobbs to their boatyard in Goring to look in their collection of old boats.
Grace said, “I had the privilege of going to the boatyard to look around with Jonnie and his father, Tony. There were a lot of beautiful vintage boats in the Hobbs private collection. I really liked a long bi-coloured canoe with marquetry on the side, but Tony said that the canoe was made in Canada and not so relevant to our intertwined association at the Relais and he suggested the Shepherd’s made dinghy instead which we all agreed on. There was a synergy and an immediate bond with Johnnie when I first came to town and am looking forward to building that relationship and continuing to work together.”
The boat was taken from Goring to the Henley boatyard where it was renovated and restored.
Jonnie said, “Peter West who works for us has done a brilliant job in restoring it over 5/6 week and a lot of hours of work. I think it had at least 10 coats of varnish. She looks like she belongs here and the vaulted ceiling really shows her off and fills the space really well. Dinghies and punts were the mode of transport to enjoy the Regatta and Thames at the time. We are very keen to work with the hotel going forward. I think with the investment that has gone into the hotel it will bring footfall into the town particularly in the winter.”
Mark Mosimann and Tim Hartnoll (Grace’s business partner) joined Grace and Jonnie this week for the unveiling of the plaque below.