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DORIAN: Pro Gallery


Type: Pinnace
Length: 41 ft
Beam: 12 ft 1 ins
Draft: 5 ft
Displacement: 16.61 tons
Engine: None
Construction: Teak on oak
Builder: Portsmouth Navy Yard
Year: 1918

When she was originally built in 1918, Dorian was a pinnace - a 41-foot harbour launch with a Gardner or Kelvin petrol engine. A Mr. Findlay bought her in 1937 from the Admiralty. He lengthened and converted her to a cruising yacht for charter but when the war started she was commandeered once more by the Admiralty for the duration. The Navy took her to Dunkirk and she then spent the rest of the war at anchor in Chichester harbour.


After the war, she had a single Scripps V8 petrol engine fitted (a conversion of the Ford V8 engine), the type used for landing craft. The Findlay’s felt safer with a second engine and both were converted to run on paraffin. Despite her two masts, the Dorian was never much of a sailing boat, but she was a handsome cruiser and towed a 9ft mahogany tender which could also be hoisted onto the stern cabin. Her old brass binnacle and oil navigation lamps still exist, although her compass had a massive 14-degree deviation and was therefore replaced after the war with a 30-shilling (£1.50) government surplus one. For many years the Dorian cruised extensively from the Thames as far East as Great Yarmouth in Norfolk and South through the Solent to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. She frequently crossed to France and spent holidays on the French canals. The Findlay’s then had her on the Thames and lived on Dorian at Benson in Oxfordshire. They visited Oxford with their infant son lashed into his playpen on deck.


In the 1960s she was sold to Ted Cattle, an electrical contractor who re-organised her electrical system, re-covered her decks and continued her modernisation. When he died, Dorian was next seen at Ash Island on the Thames. Lord Soper, the late Methodist minister and President of the Methodist Conference, once used her for a religious revival campaign based on the 'Dunkirk Spirit' which was reported in the Sunday Times. She carried a large banner lashed to her guardrails saying, 'Jesus Saves'.


Now, after being used as a houseboat and suffering a catastrophic fire in the wheelhouse when ashore to be renovated, she has been taken over by a new owner. She is pictured on her way to Chertsey Meads for renovation.

In Jan 2011 Dorian has been acquired by the Dunkirk Little Ships Restoration Trust. Early in May 2011 Dorian was moved to the Trust’s new workshop in Southampton docks where she will be restored. By the end of the year the hull had been set up on blocks, stripped of all fittings and the work of fitting new frames where necessary was well advanced.

Link to Restoration:

Link to Motor Boat and Yachting article and video:

DORIAN: Project
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