The Little Ship Endeavour

»«Sunday 10th January 2016

The second Cruiser Lunch of 2015/16 took place on Sunday 10th January. Peter Dolby joined us to talk about the Endeavour. Not Tommy Sopwith's valiant America's Cup challenger, but an altogether more modest vessel: a doughty little Leigh Bawley.

The Endeavour was built by Cole and Wiggins at Leigh-on-Sea in 1924, of pitch pine on oak and elm frames. She fished for several species including cockles, prawns and plaice. One product harvested by the Endeavour was white weed. The weed was dyed green and sent to the USA, where it served as artificial grass in dry desert regions.

The Endeavour was one of six Leigh cocklers that took part in the Dunkirk evacuation of Allied troops in 1940, tasked with ferrying troops from the shallows of Dunkirk Harbour to larger vessels in deeper water. Their gallant performance under enemy fire was noted by Admiral Ramsay. Peter gave a moving account of the Leigh cocklers return from Dunkirk. One of their number (the Renown) collided with a mine and, tragically, was lost with all hands.

After the war, the Endeavour left Leigh for the Medway, where her history was lost in Kentish mists. Early in 2001, whilst looking for the Resolute (another Leigh bawley), the Endeavour was discovered decaying in a boatyard in Kent. Over the next four years, she was restored and launched in time for the 65th anniversary of the Miracle of Dunkirk.

I learnt two things from this part of the story. First, after a major refit, press-gang your shipwright into the maiden voyage to allow speedy and effective feedback. Second, Channel 13 bridge-to-bridge communication is much more effective if you have a River Class patrol vessel for company.

Peter brought a selection of Endeavour memorabilia for purchase, which raised about £120 for The Endeavour Trust. This was supplemented by a collection which raised just over £100. Peter Dolby thanked those present for their interest, support and generosity, and I would like to do the same. It was lovely to see so many members there: the general hub-bub and laughter of good company, enjoying a splendid roast dinner, filled the room.

Our next Cruiser lunch is, sadly, the last in the 2015/16 series and will take place on Sunday 21st February. Our very own Chris Goodfellow has kindly (and bravely!) agreed to tell us about Nightsong's latest voyage to Northern waters. This is sure to be a pleasant tale of a voyage to Norway, lavishly illustrated, sparking memories for those that have ventured there in the past, and plans for future visits. Please book early to reserve your place.

Chris Nolan