Thark

Boat Specification
Boat Name: 
Thark
Boat Type: 
Motor Cruiser
Boat Length: 
32ft 2ins
Boat Beam: 
8ft 7ins
Boat Draft: 
3ft 5ins
Boat Displacement: 
8 tons approx.
Boat Engine: 
6cyl Gray + 4cyl Morris
Boat Construction: 
Mahogany on oak
Boat Builder: 
H Gibbs, Teddington
Boat Year: 
1930

The whole cast of The Lady of the Camellias playing in London's West End came to her christening when Thark was launched in 1930 at the yard of H. Gibbs at Teddington and the star of the show, Talullah Bankhead, broke a bottle of bubbly over her bows. The male lead Harold Warrender was her proud owner. By 1939, she belonged to refrigeration engineer Cecil Thompson, who kept her moored at the bottom of his garden at Hampton Court and took her for her last glorious cruise to Paris in 1939, returning just before the outbreak of war.

On 29th May 1940, in common with other little ships on the Thames, Thark received her orders to proceed to Southend Pier, where Sub-Lt A. Carew-Hunt and Coxswain Ambler of the Royal Navy took charge of her. Some contemporary records say that she made three trips to the beaches, saved 37 men and on one of her returns took in tow the disabled Dianthus. Eventually Thark too came to grief, was badly holed and fouled her propeller. She was then abandoned in mid-Channel. But a drifter commanded by Lieut. L.S. Hellyer, RNVR spotted her with no sign of life on board. They boarded her with caution, fearing booby traps, but found her cabin tidy and "her lockers fully stocked, as if for a peace-time cruise." The stores were accepted as prizes of war and they towed Thark into Dover, where she was eventually re-united with her owner. He took her back to Hampton Court and after she had been repaired, his family lived on board when their house was bombed. After the war Cecil Thompson exchanged Thark for a larger boat.

His son, Barry, who fondly remembers, as a boy, his first introduction to the sea in Thark, emigrated to New Zealand and became a sea captain. He and his brother have tried in vain to trace her. He hopes that someone will recognise the ship from his treasured picture and get in touch.

Source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 11 & 19

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Comments

Thark

My father, Ronald T. Hall, bought the Thark in 1948. He kept it close to the lock in Cookham, Berkshire. Thark was used as a home, for pleasure trips and fishing off. His wedding reception took place on the bank next to Thark's mooring. Their honeymoon was spent on board cruising up the Thames. They used the boat as their home for a few years before I was born then moved to a house in Buckinghamshire. My recollection is that the Thark sank in the Thames shortly afterwards! I have a wonderful picture of Thark which I keep in the downstairs toilet.