BUILDING THE WILLIAM ALLCHORN.
A 50 FOOT PURPOUS BUILT BEACH LAUNCHED PASSENGER BOAT.
Commissioned by the Allchorn family of Eastbourne East Sussex and the brain child of Mr R. Cantell of Newhaven East Sussex it was designed on the Cantell dining room table under the watchful eyes of his family, the boat soon to be known as the William Allchorn was born.
The boat had to be of shallow draft so as to be able to be driven on to the beach if necessary, very strong, light for its size but capable of carrying in excess of 16,000 pounds (over 7000kgs) in a choppy sea in comfort and safety, a bit of a tall order you might say, not for Reg Cantell with over 100 years of boat building in the family who, originally built boats on Jersey in the Channel Islands. What Reg came up with was a 50ft long, 16ft wide and 47 gross tonnes of Icon that would come to be known as the William Allchorn.
The ‘William Allchorn’ circa 1950
The hull is Mahogany planks on Oak frames (double diagonal planking) this form of construction is both light, very strong and well proven in the fast patrol and Rescue boats of WW2. He designed a very clever stern which deflected the waves and surf, so while the boat had its bow on the beach rather than the waves slapping into and pushing the boat up the beach the waves went under it and were broken up by the slightly pointed and turned up stern, the bow is high and flared to deflect the water and also has a very fine entry so it cuts through the waves and gives a smooth ride.
Current (Jan 2014 by Lloyd) photos of the W/A showing the stern, bow and current condition
The keel was laid sometime in 1948 and the build commenced over the next 18 months.
The Frames of the William Allchorn in Cantell’s shed at Newhaven 1948/49.
Curtsey of Mrs J Fuller, (nee Cantell)
The Cantell boat sheds at Newhaven, taken may 2014 by Lloyd.
It is a time consuming construction method where all the frames and ribs are built first then the planking is laid over the frame work at a 45degree angle, once this process is finished the hull is covered in oiled or tarred calico cloth before the second skin of planks are fitted over the top at 90 degrees to the first, this gives a light weight, very strong and waterproof construction but the devil’s own job to repair should the need arise.
Double diagonal planking.
The engines that were chosen and fitted were twin Leyland diesels, the work horse of the day, much later to be replaced with twin Perkins diesels coupled to twin disc gear boxes and 2:1 reduction giving a little more horsepower and better economy.
A typical Leyland Marine Diesel engine. A Perkins6354, 130hp Marine Diesel Engine.
A central elevated wheel house was added in front of the engine room to give all round good visibility, fore and aft passenger decks were set at a lower level below the wheel position to give some shelter from the weather and spray also to stop passengers falling over the side! The passenger decks were planked so they could be removed for ease of maintenance and for inspection purposes however this may change during the restoration depending on the M.C.G.A current regulations. Toilets were built into the high bow which gave good head room in a choppy sea. The large Iconic yellow funnel was more for show but the small in comparison exhaust pipes exited just below the top of the funnel giving the desired appearance and effect. A new funnel will need to be made as the old one fell to pieces and the new exhausts will exit on the waterline.
The Willian Allchorn was launched in 1950 and has spent all its life working from the beach just west of Eastbourne Pier. In 1965 she was joined the Southern Queen which was purchased from Mr Sayers on his retirement, (the only pleasure boat built in Westham Village still around now we think) they must have carried thousands and thousands of passengers over the years and became a part of the fabric of Eastbourne seafront, now something is missing from the long hot days of summer - - - - - - - - hopefully not for much longer!