Jeff

Boat Specification
Boat Name: 
Jeff
Boat Type: 
Motor Launch
Boat Length: 
39ft 9ins
Boat Beam: 
9ft 9ins
Boat Draft: 
2ft 9ins
Boat Displacement: 
12.5 tons
Boat Engine: 
Ford Diesel
Boat Construction: 
Carvel
Boat Builder: 
J Mears, Richmond
Boat Year: 
1923

In the early 1920's, Joe Mears was at the height of his success as a passenger boat operator on the river Thames. His garage at Richmond looked after the coaches which brought holiday-makers to the river and he needed suitable vessels for smaller parties. So, in 1922 and 1923 he built two sister boats: Mutt and Jeff. They were named after two internationally popular cartoon characters created by Bud Fisher, a journalist on the San Francisco Chronicle. Jeff was the shorter of the pair, who always lost out in their encounters. Both launches were small, open craft of under 40ft and were the first of Mears' boats to be powered by internal combustion engines. Mutt ran from Westminster to London Bridge and Jeff from Westminster to Old Swan Pier. In the days when Joe Watson was skipper and Bert Wheeler her engineer, the return trip in Jeff cost just one shilling. Both launches went to Dunkirk and both survived the war but Mutt is now no more.

After 23 years, Jeff was sold to Thames Launches. Arthur Jacobs of Windsor took her over in 1952. He had a series of boats called Windsor and Jeff was renamed Windsor IV. She ran trips to Boveney Lock near Windsor. When Windsor II was scrapped, she took over her name.

Whatford & Sons of Hampton Court were her next owners and when their business was sold in 1981, Turks Launches took her on as their spare boat. Jeff is rare among the Dunkirk Ships still operating, because she remains very close to her original appearance and a trip in her, perhaps more than in any other, is instantly evocative of the period of the lively young things whom she served to entertain in the boisterous nineteen -twenties. Little did some of them guess that she would be there to rescue them from the beach at La Panne, to get them back to England in 1940.

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

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