Type: Thames Launch
Length: 41ft 9ins
Beam: 6 ft 9ins
Draft: 2ft 6in
Engine: Nanni Diesel
Construction: Mahogany planks on oak Ribs, superstructure Mahogany
Occasionally we come across vessels which you find it very hard were considered to participate in the evacuation, then you have to remember it was desperate times. Woodland Lily appears in several documants as being taken to Southend Pier in preparation to assist with the evacuation of the BEF.
Woodland Lily built as Eel in 1903 by the popular Andrews of Maidenhead , later Andrews of Bourne End. Andrews are famous for building beautiful steam and electric recreational river craft from the 1870's to 1960s and the creator of the first and ever popular Slipper Stern Launches . Eel was an electric launch and used for The Andrews Hire Fleet, it s through she would have been converted to Petrol in the early 1920's . In 1938 she was sold to Arthur Jacobs of Windsor and was fitted with a 'Handy Bill ' Petrol/ paraffin engine
and was installed with bulkheads and other items to meet the Board of trade Requirements, initially her hull varnished showing her beautiful Mahogany planking then after deterioration she was painted dark blue.
In 1940 Jack Golding's of Golding Bros of Windsor, tripping boat company, was returning to Windsor with The Angler when she was ordered to Southend in preparation to assist in the evacuation of the Expeditionary Force of Dunkirk. Jack Golding was asked to go to Windsor to inform others of the Admiralty request of all self propelled vessels 30' to 100' in length. Golding returned to The Angler and set off in convoy with Em, Gerbera, Woodland lily (Eel ) and Marina they travelled over night reaching Southend Pier early next morning.
Aside from the Angler after inspection by the Royal Navy at Southend it was decided that this fleet of Thames Launches would in fact be 'unsuitable for use' and were returned to Windsor when the emergency was over.
in 1966 Woodland Lily (Eel ) resurfaced and was sold to a garage owner under the name Woodland Lily she was in particular bad condition she had some work done at Clewer Boatyard but was described as being of 'not sound timber amidships'. In 1971 she was sold to H Orr - Ewing and commissioned Michael Dennett at Harris Boatyard ( now Dennett Boat Builders ) to replace her mahogany hull , as much that was sound was retained this included her clipper bow and counter stern, the owner himself re fitted her out as a steam launch.
As for today Woodland Lily is still maintain at Dennett's and has again been returned to combustion engine and has been fitted with a Nanni Diesel. Her providence as a Dunkirk Little Ship has only just come to light in 2021, whilst Heather Dennett ( Gay Venture ) was researching Woodland Lily for their business website when she noticed a connection with the Woodland Lily cited under the All Known Ships of the ADLS . With the possibility that these two boats could be the same, research began with help from John Tough Archivist ( Thamesa) David Knight Secretary ( Margo II) and Neil Garside owner of Andrews Boathouse Archives.
Stephen Sidkins her now owner is happily surprised by his much loved vessels new found providence and is looking forward to participating in future events with the ADLS.