Just found this from CLASSIC BOAT MAGAZINE on "AMAZON"
Captain Mainwaring’s yacht rests after transatlantic crossing
By Classic Boat // February 19, 2011
The 1885 yacht that belonged to Arthur Lowe from Dad’s Army has been spotted in America
The 1885 screw steamer (and former steam yacht)Amazon is spending a sheltered winter at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, after having crossed the Atlantic. The classic motor sailer, originally driven by a coal-fired compound engine and boiler but now diesel powered, celebrated her 125thanniversary last year – proof positive if any were needed, that older wooden boats can stay viable when properly built and maintained.
Amazon (102ft LOA) was built at the Arrow Yard in Southampton to a Dixon Kemp design of teak and pitch pine on oak frames with bronze fastenings. She’s mostly still original. And she’s also the yacht that used to belong to Arthur Lowe – better known as Captain Mainwaring in Dad’s Army.
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5 Responses to Captain Mainwaring’s yacht rests after transatlantic crossing
Michael Roberts says:
June 20, 2011 at 9:15 pm
I sold “Amazon” to Athur Lowe in 1969 whilst I was involved with Cubitt’s Yacht Basin which is in Chiswick, London. Amazon had been used as a house boat for many years and all the steam machinery had been been removed apart from some of the engine castings which I found in pieces in the bilges, it had bean broken up with a 14lb hammer, I cannot sure of it’s maker but it was probably Sissons.
I still have a drawing of the vessel prepared by Tough Bros Ltd of Teddington (about 8miles upstream from Cubitts basin) on the River Thames. This drawing shows the revised interior layout and the position of the Perkins diesel engine which on trials propelled the vessel at 9.8 knots (almost the same at the original steam engine). I supplied and installed a Stuart-Turner diesel generator inside the funnel, this produced 24 volts DC and charged a large bank of batteries sited below the main saloon, these powered the oil fired central heating system and diesel fired cooker. and hot water system.
The maiden voyage, following the restoration was from Teddington to the River Medway, a journey of about 80 miles, which I really enjoyed and in the company of many of the cast of “Dads Army” and Mr Frank Newman from Tough Shipyard who was a great personal friend of mine.
For some while, “Amazon” was moored in St Katherine’s Yacht Haven near Tower Bridge in London, I looked after her as I worked in an office nearby and spent many a pleasant evening on board.
Foll0wing Arthur Lowe’s death, I lost contact with “Amazon” I understand that ownership was transfered to Arthur’s son Steven. He moved her to Scotland and moored it on the Caledonian Canal and was living on board. I have no knowledge of “Amazon’s” movements since then.
I find it difficult to believe that the vessel protrayed in the photograph is the same “Amazon” that I knew
for whilst the hull shape is the same, the superstructure is totally different, also the builders of the “Amazon” I know were Tankerville-Chamberlain who were based on the Isle of Wight and was constructed in I888. she was not of teak constuction but as described by the surveyor emplyed by Arthur Lowe, as “A jacobs coat” a mixture of timbers from pine to larch to mahogany, below the waterline she was copper sheathed, part of which was removed and exposed a mixture including teak and pine (If my memory serves me correctly, bearing in mind it was along time ago!)
I am happy to try and answer any questions that may arise and would very much like to learn if it is the same old “Amazon” that I knew so well.
Michael Roberts says:
June 21, 2011 at 10:07 am
Please note my email address is [email protected]
(not [email protected]
Michael Roberts says:
October 18, 2011 at 12:27 pm
Further to my comments dated the 21st of June 2011, “Amazon” is unquestionably the vessel I sold to Arthur Lowe. (Not as I stated in 1969, but in 1968). The details I gave were in good faith and I do hope the current owners will accept this, bearing in mind it was 43 years ago and was largely based on information provided by the previous owner, I am so pleased to learn that “Amazon” is now back in the United Kingdom following her epic transatlantic crossings and wish her (and her current owners) great success on all their future voyages.
Michael Roberts (18th October 2011)
Amazon's owners says:
October 30, 2011 at 11:57 pm
Mike Roberts’ interesting (and rather surprising!) comments were brought to our attention, so we contacted him to seek clarification as we knews that his comments were erroneous.
Unfortunately, as is often the case after many years, memory can be fallible and embarrassingly at odds with incontrovertible contemporaneous written evidence. When we contacted Mike he stated that there were no written records for the yacht, but this is wrong. There are (and indeed were at the time), contemporaneous Registration and survey records; we have the good fortune to hold these now. Mike has therefore been kind enough to submit his latest message above and, as discussed with him, we shall elaborate below on the details ‘for the record’ (although it may well be that very few people will read this somewhat dated ‘news item’ webpage).
By way of background, Mike was involved with the clearance of vessels from Cubitt’s Yacht Basin before its conversion to the present Chiswick Quay marina and as a result acted as sales agent on behalf of Mr Dominic Johnson Stone, who owned ‘Amazon’ from 1960-1968.
It was Mike’s advertisement in the Sunday Times of ‘Amazon’ as a ‘Houseboat… beautifully fitted ex-steam yacht… Constructed from 2? Burma teak, sheathed in copper, the hull is practically maintenance free… contact the Sole Agent’ that attracted Arthur and Joan Lowe to view her.
The Registrar of Ships subsequently recorded that the transfer of ownership from Mr Dominic Johnson Stone to Mr & Mrs Arthur and Joan Lowe took place on 7 September 1968 (that we had this detail was a surprise to Mike).
Concerning Mike’s remark on the superstructure, ‘Amazon’ has had quite a number of these during her long life (they are simple ‘bolt on’ structures and relatively simple to fit and remove); however, far from being ‘totally different’ the forward superstructure today is largely that which she had back in 1968. From photographic evidence the deckhouse was fitted sometime between 1920 and 1937, by which time she carried large forward and after deckhouses with a wheelhouse ‘extension’ above the forward one! When ‘Amazon’ was built she was unusual in being ‘flush decked’ with no deckhouses at all. From other photographs and records it seems her first deckhouse was fitted over the Ladies Cabin (aft) sometime between 1900 and 1920.
The registry books of the Registrar of Shipping and Seamen’ and her Certificate of Registry as a British Ship from the 1880s onwards have recorded that ‘Amazon’ was designed by Dixon Kemp for Tankerville Chamberlayne Esq, who built her at his private (i.e. non-commercial) ‘Arrow Yard’ at Northam, Southampton, personally superintending the construction. The date the keel was laid remains uncertain (it may very well have been in 1884), but there is no doubt whatsoever that ‘Amazon’ was launched and operating in 1885. Indeed, Dixon Kemp’s First Edition of his seminal ‘Yacht Architecture’ was published in 1885 and contains the details of ‘Amazon’s’ sea trials. The suggestion that she ‘Amazon’ was built in 1888 in the Isle of Wight is just plain wrong.
We can confirm from our personal inspection that ‘Amazon’ was built and remains teak and pitch pine on oak (the ‘state of the art’ for such construction at the time). Mike’s remarks about “A jacobs coat” mixture of timbers from pine to larch to mahogany are very confusing and when asked he could not identify the source; these comments are certainly at odds with the years of reports of Arthur Lowe’s surveyor that we hold, which state that shortly after her purchase by the Lowes she was ‘in remarkable condition for her age’. Self-evidently the fact that ‘Amazon’ was in such good condition for an old ship (she was 83 in 1968 and is almost 127 now) provided the opportunity that Arthur Lowe seized to pursue his seagoing ambitions with her. Had she been a ‘crock’ in 1968 she would most likely have remained a houseboat, not returned to a sea-going existence.
We bought ‘Amazon’ from Stephen Lowe at the end of 1996 when she was lying in Scotland (she had been at Inverness for some years). With quite minor effort she was ready and able to make passage to the Central Mediterranean in 1997.
In our ownership, we have had to make some repairs to the end of her counter stern, but ‘Amazon’ remains mostly the yacht that was built in 1885 (‘expert’ opinion puts the original fabric of her hull as well over 80%) and the chief effort we have had to make is to the replacement of machinery and systems throughout (from engines to tanks to pipes to wires). It has been a continual source of pleasure to us that such a very old vessel can be in such sound and operational condition as ‘Amazon’ still is.
Anyway, the proof of the pudding is surely in the eating: ‘Amazon’ must surely be unique in not being a ‘restoration’ (i.e. she remains mostly the original structure) and in having made trans-Atlantic voyages at 124 and 126 years of age. She should have plenty of years and miles left in her yet!
Thank you, Mike, for your kind remarks in your latest post above; we accept that your comments were made in error and on the basis of fallible memory. Who knows, ‘Amazon’ may yet call at Ramsgate again.
Stephen Lowe says:
June 4, 2012 at 12:17 am
What a joy it was to see her moored below Tower Bridge today for the Queen’s Jubilee! Amazon has to be one of the most remarkable yachts ever… I’m so pleased we were able to play our small part by rescuing her from Cubitt’s and getting her back to sea, and thank you Mike for the part you played in that. Amazon’s new owners you are so wonderful, taking Amazon on all these epic voyages. We wish you a great stay in London, and a safe voyage home to Malta.