Janthea previously Reda

Boat Specification
Boat Name: 
Janthea previously Reda
Boat Type: 
Motor Yacht
Boat Length: 
45 ft
Boat Beam: 
12 ft
Boat Draft: 
3 ft 6 ins
Boat Displacement: 
23.43 tons
Boat Engine: 
2 x BMC 4 cyl Diesel
Boat Construction: 
Carvel
Boat Builder: 
Whisstocks, Woodbridge
Boat Year: 
1938
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Among the prewar owners of the Little Ships are many prosperous personalities of the 1930s. Reda was built for a Mr. Austin Reed - for many years thought to have been the head of the successful clothing firm of that time. However recent enquiries have discovered that the Austin Reed who commissioned Claude Whisstock to design his comfortable 45ft yacht at Woodbridge, Suffolk in 1938 was in fact the owner of a chain of 5 public houses in London.

Claude built the yacht entirely without drawings, however, thanks to an article in 'Yachting World' of April 1939, a full specification with plan and sections do exist to show that the original layout has not been changed over the years. The yacht is of built out of 1? in pitch pine planking on 2? side grown English oak frames with two steamed ribs between each pair. The topsides are teak. She was powered by two 4.40 Gray engines. An unusual feature is a large heads with full size bath. She was built as a one-off at a cost -of ?1,885 and 15 shillings. Austin took delivery of her in 1939 when Ron Lenthall who was Ron Toughs waterman at Teddington, brought her from Suffolk to the Thames on her maiden voyage - but he never had a chance to sail in her.

In 1940 it was Ron Lenthall, who was given the task of collecting the Little Ships. It had been a busy few days for Ron. For severa1 weeks boats on nearby moorings had to be kept immobilised without their batteries, for fear that they might be used by enemy agents. Then about ten days before the start of the evacuation, the word was given to make all available boats ready in case they should be needed at short notice, and to collect together others which might be used. "We knew where they were going, and what they would have to do," Ron recalled. "We had to take down the masts as we knew most of the boats would be used for work off the beaches and not actually to bring men back -- and take unecessary gear off of them to make more space inside." He remembered taking down Reda's mast and painting the name on its heel. He also remembered how Austin Reed visited his boat at Tough's and remarked on the full drinks locker. "There's plenty of booze; leave it there, the chaps will have a greater need for it than me."

On 29th May 1940 Reda sailed from Ramsgate in company with five other yachts across the English Channel, all manned by willing and eager crews fired by the one common purpose of saving the British Expeditionary Force.

After severe machine-gun attacks from the air off Gravelines they arrived at La Panne beach at 1500 and at once began towing whalers full of troops to off-lying ships. The Reda then returned to Ramsgate with 21 soldiers aboard. She braved a bombing raid as she left but survived unscathed. On 31st May she went back for more and after ferrying 50 Frenchmen to a larger transport, brought 23 more direct to Ramsgate.

After Dunkirk Reda continued as an Auxiliary Patrol Vessel. A tetchy correspondence took place between Austin Reed and the boatbuilders in 1941 when the owner was billed for certain property removed from Reda prior to Dunkirk and still held in Tough's stores: a companion ladder and a cardboard box containing pyjamas and gloves were mentioned. Mr. Reed also referred to a refrigerator, some stainless steel cutlery and kitchen utensils. Fortunately there was an inventory Which even in the heat of events, Ron Lenthall had kept meticulously. During the war her name was changed to Columbine, and she served with the Harwich Patrol until in June 1947 she was reregistered in the ownership of Arthur Foster, an engineer from Chigwell, North East London. She had 3 other owners between 1950 and 1952 when she was sold to Leeds businessman Arthur Kaye who named her Janthea. He had her for thirty years and kept her at Hampton Court as a family motor yacht. New BMC Commodore engines were installed in 1958. Ron Lenthall took the Kaye's on her to Holland and through France and she became an active member of the ADLS.

Since 1984, she has been owned by Norman and Marion Cannell. Norman was a founder member of the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships through his father's ship Doutelle of which he was joint owner. After 17 years as Hon. Secretary he became Vice-Commodore for the 1990 return and was then Commodore for 3 years. Janthea is still a very active member ship and is well known on the River Thames.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 11 & 19

Updated 06/09/99