Festivals Keep on Coming… Beautiful Boats and So Much More

Steam boats, Dunkirk Little Ships, canoes, skiffs, amphibious cars are all back on show at the Trad Boat Festival at Fawley Meadows on their traditional dates this weekend starting on Friday.

The Festival was first held at Fawley Meadows in 1978 as a rally for like minded enthusiasts who wanted to show off their enthusiasm for the older, traditionally built craft that were fast disappearing from the river Thames.

The parade of Dunkirk Little Ships is always a lovely spectacle to be seen and amazing to think that the 30-40 feet boats carried 70/80 soldiers each and went back 2/3 times in Operation Dynamo in 1940.

There are so many beautiful and unusual boats for everyone to see.  Two of the stand out ones this year are Royal Navy torpedo boat, CMB9 which is back at the Trad this year and a beautiful wooden quad skiff, Sgian Dubh owned by The Thames Traditional Boat Society.

CMB9 was built in 1916 by Thornycroft, and named CMB 9 (Coastal Motor-Boat 9). She saw action in 1917 off Zeebrugge during a dramatic mission accompanied by CMB1. Both vessels were serving on the Dover patrol and went to the rescue of pilots who had been shot down ten miles off Nieuport. They came under attack by four German torpedo boats: CMB1 took a direct hit and was blown up, but CMB9 escaped unscathed.  She was then one of four boats that were used on top-secret experiments designed to test whether unmanned fast patrol boats armed with torpedoes could be controlled from the air and directed towards enemy targets.

Sgian Dubh was built by Mark Edwards and John Cox at Richmond Boat House for the late David Warren in 1994 to row in the Great River Race with his family as crew. David donated the boat to the TTBS in 2001 and she is regularly used by its members for cruises, races and simply pottering.  In 2004 she convincingly broke the record for the fastest non-stop journey from Lechlade to Southend Pier: 186 miles in 30 hours 57 minutes, with a crew from Dittons Skiff & Punting Club.

Adam Toop, co-Chair & Chief Judge has announced an important new judging category ‘Elegance Underway‘ with The William Rose trophy which has been beautifully designed by boat builder, Colin Henwood in memory of Bill Rose, a vintage boat restorer who sadly passed away last year.

Colin said, “The way a boat moves through the water, the poise and balance of the hull, the proportion of the superstructure to the topsides contribute to the notion of an elegant boat. The craftsmanship that has gone into the building informed by generations of tradition and the respect awarded by the ownership all bring a great deal to the image of “Elegance Underway” that is the definition of the new TTBF William Rose Trophy.

“Penny Rose brought the idea and concept for the design of this important trophy to my workshop. Bill Rose understood the alchemy of the Thames boats, he defined the understated elegance of the boats he restored and conserved for the Rose Toop Collection. Every boat from a little 8ft estate punt to the magnificent steam launch “Pierette” all had one detail in common – a neatly coiled rope placed on the deck. That was to be the design of this trophy in memory of Bill Rose.”

“Simon Clements, a wood carver and sculptor, skilfully carved a beautiful coil of rope. The carving was mounted on a piece of old Mahogany, saved for many years for the moment when a project justified its use, then a simple Mahogany box was made to hold the trophy safely for years to come.”

“The “William Rose Trophy” will be awarded in memory of a man who loved the Thames and the boats that belong to the river.”

Adam Toop commented, “This is a very important trophy in honour of a very special man.  Bill Rose taught me so much and was a wonderful friend.  I think about him so often. We owe a substantial debt of gratitude to Colin for making such a special trophy.”

The oldest Victorian steamer, Alaska will offer visitors a ride up the Regatta Course and Henley Reach throughout the weekend.

The amphibious boats always bring a smile to everyone’s faces – with many looking like they might have to bail out as they lie so low in the water. Lyndon Yorke from Henley is often seen in one of his on the Henley Reach. His Tritania eclectic boat built around a 1930s electric bath chair, complete with bubble machine and gramophone player will be back at the show this year.

The Festival isn’t just about boats though – there will be air displays, classic cars, old bicycle parades, music, a dog show, vintage stalls plus plenty of places to eat and drink.

On Saturday night there will be illuminated boat and cycle parades and each evening there will be live musical entertainment at The Crooked Billet party.

You can purchase tickets in advance via https://www.tradboatfestival.com/