DIANTHUS

Type:  Motor Yacht
Length:  30ft
Beam:  9ft
Draft:  3ft
Displacement:  7.5 tons approx.
Engine:  Chrysler Crown
Construction:  Mahogany on oak
Builder: Timms, Staines
Year:  1938

A good name for Dianthus would be 'Never say Die'. She has had plenty of cause to give up but having been reborn several times sets a good 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 mahogany 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 restoration 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

 

©2020 The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships. All rights reserved.