Boat Specification
Boat Name: 
Boat Type: 
Motor Yacht
Boat Length: 
Boat Beam: 
Boat Draft: 
Boat Displacement: 
7.5 tons approx.
Boat Engine: 
Chrysler Crown
Boat Construction: 
Mahogany on oak
Boat Builder: 
Timms, Staines
Boat Year: 

A good name for Dianthus would be 'Never say Die'. She has had plenty of cause to give up, but is now about to receive another life as an example to other Dunkirk Little Ships.

On 1st June 1940, Sub-Lieut. F.N. Dann set out from Ramsgate but Dianthus' 5.61itre Chrysler petrol engine gave trouble and he was towed back by the motor-boat Thark. On the second attempt, an injury to the helmsman forced him to return and when he tried for the third time, the engine died on him again. In the early hours of 3rd June, adrift in the Channel, he sighted one of the last returning convoys and accepted a tow home.

Released from war service, Dianthus seemed to have equally bad luck. Various people made half-hearted attempts to restore her. After all, she was built by Timms of Staines, a famous Thames boat yard, of maho-gany on oak. But when Clive Anderson, a 33-year old 'mature student' of yacht building at Cornwall College in Falmouth, saw her lying ashore, in the shadow of the SS Great Britain in Bristol, her planks were rotten and she had lost her foredeck. The owner nearly snatched his arm off when he offered him all he had, which was a meagre ?280.

'I bought her because she needed saving and was an ideal first resto-ration project. At first I used her as an office - the part of her that was habitable. Then I found a shed little bigger than the boat itself and two fellow students, Ant Crawford and Ben Barnett, did a great job, stripping her out and renewing the bottom planking. Colin Chase is overhauling the Chrysler engine. I'm going to pull the boat out of her shed and bring her back to Falmouth so that she's nearer and I can get more work done.' He is now talking to Christian Brann, the author of this book who is looking for a Dunkirk Little Ship and wants to finance a perfect restoration.

Clive Anderson used to be a freelance architectural designer and worked on the Chelsea Harbour, where the Little Ships have often held their rallies. Then he worked on a design for a British Aerospace hanger. He wanted to change to work which was more functional and requires real ingenuity and creative talent. Boat-building, and especially restoring a worthwhile old boat like Dianthus, seems to give him the kind of inspiration he has been looking for. So, perhaps, they need each other and Dianthus will cease to be a loser after all those years.

Source: B, C, D, E, K & S

Updated: No



I am pleased to hear that Dianthus is still around and hope that she will be restored in time. I know the boat from my childhood, and was told that she was a Dunkirk Littleship, but was never sure if this was actually true.
In the 1970's Dianthus was moored on the River Trent at Farndon Ferry. She was owned by a man from Sheffield called Charlie Debain, who was old enough to have owned it a very long time. He used to visit every weekend during the season, and spent most of his time working on the boat, painting it and lavishing attention on it. It only actually left its moorings once a year! Charlie was getting old, and when someone approached him to buy the boat he eventually agreed. Unfortunately I cannot remember the name of the new owners. They did have some work done on the boat, I think they restored the centre wheelhouse to its original condition so that they would be able to fold it down to get under bridges. They also had the hull stripped, which left the seams on the planking showing. My familt didn't however think that they would have the funds available longterm to maintain the boat.