Boat Specification
Boat Name: 
Boat Type: 
Boat Length: 
41 ft
Boat Beam: 
12 ft 1 ins
Boat Draft: 
5 ft
Boat Displacement: 
16.61 tons
Boat Engine: 
Boat Construction: 
Teak on oak
Boat Builder: 
Portsmouth Navy Yard
Boat Year: 
Member of the Restoration Trust

When she was originally built in 1918, Dorian was a pinnace - a 41-foot harbour launch with a Gardner or Kelvin petrol engine. A Mr. Findlay bought her in 1937 from the Admiralty. He lengthened and converted her to a cruising yacht for charter but when the war started she was commandeered once more by the Admiralty for the duration. The Navy took her to Dunkirk and she then spent the rest of the war at anchor in Chichester harbour.

After the war, she had a single Scripps V8 petrol engine fitted (a conversion of the Ford V8 engine), the type used for landing craft. The Findlays felt safer with a second engine and both were converted to run on paraffin. Despite her two masts, the Dorian was never much of a sailing boat, but she was a handsome cruiser and towed a 9ft mahogany tender which could also be hoisted onto the stern cabin. Her old brass binnacle and oil navigation lamps still exist, although her compass had a massive 14-degree deviation and was therefore replaced after the war with a 30-shilling (?1.50) government surplus one. For many years the Dorian cruised extensively from the Thames as far East as Great Yarmouth in Norfolk and South through the Solent to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. She frequently crossed to France and spent holidays on the French canals. The Findlays then had her on the Thames and lived on Dorian at Benson in Oxfordshire. They visited Oxford with their infant son lashed into his playpen on deck.

In the 1960s she was sold to Ted Cattle, an electrical contractor who re-organised her electrical system, re-covered her decks and continued her modernisation. When he died, Dorian was next seen at Ash Island on the Thames. Lord Soper, the late Methodist minister and President of the Methodist Conference, once used her for a religious revival campaign based on the 'Dunkirk Spirit' which was reported in the Sunday Times. She carried a large banner lashed to her guardrails saying 'Jesus Saves'.

Now, after being used as a houseboat and suffering a catastrophic fire in the wheelhouse when ashore to be renovated, she has been taken over by a new owner. She is pictured on her way to Chertsey Meads for renovation.

In Jan 2011 Dorian has been acquired by the Dunkirk Little Ships Restoration Trust. Early in May 2011 Dorian was moved to the Trust’s new workshop in Southampton docks where she will be restored. By the end of the year the hull had been set up on blocks, stripped of all fittings and the work of fitting new frames where necessary was well advanced.

Source: 2, 3, 4, 5, 11 & 19
Jan 2012


Restoration Project

I am keeping a photographic record of Dorian's restoration - you can view this on going project on Facebook - the page is under the name of Dorian Dlsrt. You do not have to be a friend to view this page.


My grandfather before he died told us he was saved from the beeches of dunkirk in them last desperate days on a ship/boat called the Dorian or Dorian Rose. This is the only boat listed as this name for the dunkirk ships and to know it is being saved after all these years and knowing it brought back my Grandfather is amazing. Can this boat be viewed one day by the public?


To the new owners: My husband and I (Michael and Elizabeth Fleming) owned Dorian and lived on her at Ash Island, East Molesey from about 1966 to 1971 when we emigrated to New Zealand. It still had twin engines then and ran on TVO. I recently found a painting of her at that time done by a friend of ours, and was wondering what to do with it. Would you be interested in it (very small)?

Regards, Elizabeth Baritompa

MV Dorian

Hi there
I recently discovered that one of the Dunkirk 'little ships' that I owned back in the '70's - 'M.V. Dorian' - is currently being restored at Southampton. I purchased her in October 1971 for a then princely sum of £3100.00 and owned her for about four years - and regretfully was responsible for fibre glassing here beautiful decks as she had began to leak like a sieve and we couldn't afford any alternative method of making her watertight! However, as a fire subsequently took her I won't feel too bad about it now! She was a grand vessel with two great Ford V8's that ran on a petrol start up and switched over to TVO for cruising. We had a mooring on Ash Island - just below Hampton Court Bridge and have some great stories of our period of ownership.
The reason for getting in touch is that I do have some photo's and articles on Dorian which show details of parts of the interior should you be looking for an authentic restoration. I also have our original Bill of Sale and an original sales sheet that I would be happy to donate if of interest. My wife and I would also love to come down to Southampton to view progress on the restoration if that were possible.
Look forward to your response when convenient.
Best regards
Roy Parmenter


Roy, thank you for your comment. We would be very interested in the documents that you mentioned. Perhaps you can contact me at I'll be happy to call you to discuss this further.
Website Administrator.