MINOTAUR

Type:  Pinnace
Length:  45ft
Beam:  10ft 6ins
Draft:  
Displacement: 
Engine: 
Construction: 
Builder:  
Year:  1907

Introduction.

The history of the 'Minotaur,' which was the first of three vessels to bear that name, has primarily been based on the booklet produced by 1st Mortlake Sea Scouts branch of the B-P Scout Guild ’50 years of Sea Scouting in Mortlake.

Where appropriate the information from the booklet has been supplemented with quotes from the Log of the 'Minotaur' that was kept by Tom Towndrow and from the newsletters, ‘The Buzz’ that was edited primarily by G E White (Rufus).

1929 "Scouting under motive power."

To many, the acquisition of “Minotaur " in 1929 was regarded as the most ambitious thing undertaken by the Troop up to that time, and certainly it opened up considerable possibilities in the fields of seamanship and boating generally, in addition to offering a new mobility as a basis for camping activities afloat.

Throughout the course of 1927 and 1928 the search for a suitable craft had continued; advertisements in the ‘Motor Boat’ and similar publications received the most careful scrutiny, and various prospects through private contacts being conscientiously followed up.

Finally, in February 1929, through the help of Mr. Adams, of Hanwell, an ex-’Minotaur’ hull was located at Chatham Dockyard, and a cheque for £60 passed to M. Lynch and Son of Rochester for her purchase. She was duly towed by London and Rochester Trading Co. to Cadogan Pier, Battersea on the morning tide of 14th March 1929, where the Troop took delivery.

The following morning, she was towed to moorings at Mortlake by the tug "Prince Regent” with a crew comprised of Instructors Flexman and G. E White, Scouts, Brown, Williams, Lindley, Habgood, Bird and Tooley, and Scout-master W. R. White.

History of Minotaur.

The history of this craft prior to being commissioned by the Troop is of interest, as her parent ship saw considerable active service and was involved in a number of notable incidents.

Constructed as ‘Pinnace’ 212 in 1907, she was assigned to H.M.S. Minotaur, a cruiser of 14,600 tons displacement, during October of that year. In 1908 H.M.S. Minotaur conveyed H.R.H. Prince of Wales to Canada, and also formed an escort when their Majesties King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra visited Sweden.

In 1910 she joined the China station and escorted H.M.S. Defence into Yokohama when the latter conveyed Prince Arthur of Connaught to the funeral of the Emperor of Japan. During the opening phase of the First World War, H.M.S. Minotaur fired upon and destroyed the German radio installations of Yap in the Philippine Islands and was at the Cocos Islands when the German cruiser Emden was sunk. At the close of 1914 she returned to the Home Fleet and took part in the Battle of Jutland during 1916, finally being paid off for disposal in 1919.

Constructional details of ‘Minotaur’ 212, or ‘Minotaur’, as 'she was in Troop service, were as follows. She was of double skinned carvel construction, being planked in teak on oak frames, with her keel and stem also in oak. Her length was 45ft. long over-all, with a beam of l0ft. 6in. Her fine underwater lines made her a fairly economical boat to run, and her arrangement of twin rudders gave good manoeuvrability. However, her restricted beam led to somewhat cramped accommodation below deck, in addition to which she was not the speediest of sea boats.

‘Minotaur’ was to take roughly two years to refit and was not actually fully serviceable until 1932. The main items of her conversion were the installation of a 30 b.h.p. Wolseley marine engine, acquired from Battersea. This engine was overhauled by the Troop at Headquarters, Alder Road; had new main and big end bearings fitted, and the crankshaft journals and pins had chrome deposited and reground. In addition, modifications to her tail shaft were necessary, and a new propeller required to suit the new power unit.

 

1932.

During the closing part of 1931, ‘Minotaur’ had been brought down from Marble Hill to a mud berth at Tom Green's boathouse, and the following January and February saw further .work upon her engine: In the first place, difficulty had been experienced in making-way astern, and this was at first attributed to mechanical faults in the reverse gear, which was tripped and re-adjusted. However, since this brought about no improvement, the existing 18in diameter x 16in pitch propeller was changed for another 19in x 12in and whilst this necessitated further minor modifications to under-water fittings, it was found to offer improved astern performance.

Between Easter Monday and May a number of short runs were made with ‘Minotaur’ under power, and following repairs to stern, stem band and bilge keels on 1st May, a down-river camp was projected for the week-end 14th-16th May. This was attended by Scouts Grayson, Jackson, Clark, Talbot, Towndrow, Allen, Bird II, Portsmouth, Lindley, W., Harris and Instructor Smith, A.S.M, Flexman, A.S.M. G. E. White and S.M. W. R. White.

The distance travelled on this occasion amounted to 110 miles, with an actual cruising time of 19 hours, and a total fuel consumption of 30 galls. The whaler accompanied the ‘Minotaur’ as a precautionary measure, but happy to relate was not required as the engine ran in an entirely satisfactory manner.

1933.

The New Year commenced with the re-appearance of ‘Minotaur’ in the mud berth immediately above Barnes Bridge, arrangements being made with the kind co-operation of Mr. T. Green, owner of the property. Routine work was carried out on her hull and fittings during January to March and the engine overhauled by Scouts Grayson and Harris.

1934.

February 1934 saw ‘Minotaur’ undergoing a refit, her original power unit being replaced by a 44hp Aster Petrol Paraffin engine. In greater detail, this operation consisted of drifting down to the Council Dock on Saturday 24th, and on Sunday 25th changing engines with the assistance of one of the power station’s cranes.

Roughly seven weeks were required to complete installation work in her machinery spaces, and finally on April 22nd, she was beached on the foreshore at Cubitts Yacht Basin for the fitting of her new propeller. There then followed annual painting until May 5th, which immediately preceded engine trials comprising, a run from the moorings to Hammersmith Bridge.

1935.

The first recorded activity afloat for the year was on May 17th, when ‘Minotaur’ with a crew of five steamed up river to Tough Bros. at Teddington, for refuelling. Remaining on Tough's berth overnight she returned to Mortlake at roughly mid-day on Saturday, 18th in order to commence her down-river passage for a weekend in the Estuary.

The weather on this occasion was very cold with a strong easterly wind off Dagenham which was reached by the late afternoon an extremely heavy hailstorm was experienced, reducing visibility ahead to a minimum.

Between the Upper Pool and Gravesend, the following warships were encountered, H.M.S. Kempenfelt, Fearless, Forester, Comet, Crescent, Fame, Fortune, Orion, Neptune and Leander. The ‘Minotaur’ lowered her ensign and received acknowledgment from roughly 75% of the vessels mentioned, all of which were berthed in the Thames prior to proceeding to Spit-head for the Jubilee Review.

Erith was abeam by 6.10 p.m. and Southend Pier at 9.20 p.m. The ‘Minotaur’ anchored in eight fathoms close to some, sport-sail barges below the pier remaining all night and making it possible for the illumination of Warships off Shoeburyness to be observed at some length by all members of the Mortlake party.

The return was commenced at 10.15 next morning, and the moorings were reached by 5.80 p.m., after a call had been made at Tilbury for fresh water. Weather on the return run was rain all the way.

This down-river weekend was carried through at a complete cost of £8.8.0 and was attended by 18 members of the Troop.

On Wednesday, 2nd December, ‘Minotaur’ was placed on a mud berth on land belonging to the Aston Sea Scouts, behind Corporation Island; Twickenham, with a view to carrying out extensive interior and exterior work. The choice of this particular date was so as to take advantage of a. spring high tide, as it had been found impossible to manhandle her into the berth by other means.

 

1937.

Throughout January, February and March of 1937, work continued on the ‘Minotaur’ and whilst it was not found possible for this to be so ambitious as originally planned, modifications to fuel tanks and locks were carried out, the bilges scrubbed from stem to stern, and paint removed from the starboard side of her hull by blowlamp.

On Wednesday, 14th April, with a crew of S.M. T Towndrow, A.S.M. Weeden and C. L. Jackson, ‘Minotaur's’ engine was started, and she slid slowly astern out of the mud-berth. This was at 4 a.m.

Prior to leaving the mud-berth, ballast was reduced to roughly 5 cwt, whereas about 2 tons had been carried previously. Paint work on the exterior of her hull was subsequently completed when she was beached, stern-up, at Ship Lane draw dock ten days later.

On May 1st, ‘Minotaur’ was again underway, this time for the purpose of conducting a Charge Certificate Test. The candidate was A.S.M. Weeden. Mr. White, the examiner, went ashore at the. Council Dock, pronouncing himself entirely satisfied.

On 23rd August, the Troop moorings at Cubitts Yacht Basin were carried away. The tide was ebbing at the time, and the M.L. ‘Jeannette’ and the Troop gig ‘Vanity’ drifted down to the Mortlake Rowing Club steps, were the ‘Minotaur’ ran aground.

A 1st Mortlake crew succeeded in anchoring the M.L. and stood by her all night. The ‘Minotaur’ was refloated and made fast to the dust destructor jetty.

On the following day we were again facing crisis when the ‘Minotaur’ caught fire. This occurred when the petrol feed pipe in the main cabin fractured, and fumes found their way into the hurricane lamp.

The Barnes Fire Brigade finally extinguished the flames, but considerable damage had occurred, and ‘Minotaur’ was subsequently in the hands of Maynards at Strand-on-the-Green for extensive repairs.

‘Minotaur’s’ final cruise during the year was when she was used for the ‘Wood Badge Reunion’, a reunion of senior scouters holding this most distinguished award and led on this occasion by one of the Troop’s own A.S.M.’s John Weeden.

To conclude the 1938 scene and omitting such minor upsets as Munich, it is recorded that the ‘Minotaur’s’ engine continued to behave in a somewhat compromising manner, and as a result was duly lifted and sent away to Messrs. Leverett and Kearton for further overhaul.

1939.

With the promised international upheavals of the previous year, and the prospect of Troop craft having to participate in such things as the P.L.A. River A.R.P. Scheme, the Troop commenced the New Year with a most vigorous drive on boat-work, in preparation for an extremely ambitious season afloat.

At Easter, ‘Minotaur’ was beached at Small Profit Dock, and painted and generally renewed throughout. Her colour scheme, which had previously been in Home Fleet grey, and white, with varnished topsides, was now revised to black, with green boot-topping, and the name ‘Minotaur’ cut in relief on her wash stroke and transom and. painted-in in chrome yellow.

Whitsun saw ‘Minotaur’ away down river, as far out into the Estuary as Harty and Warden Point.

On August 23rd, the great cross-Channel venture began. A.S.M. Towndrow had previously been examined by Capt. Malzasd, examiner for extended cruises for the Thames Sea Scout Committee and granted a Charge Certificate covering the special circumstances of the proposed voyage. This account would not be complete without it being stated that some opposition from Imperial Headquarters was encountered, but the situation being finally resolved, the 1st Mortlake set sail.

Proceeding down-river, the compass was swung in the secluded waters of the Swale, behind the Isle of Sheppey, and a boom rigged for hoisting the dingy in board, prior to leading-out to the open waters of the Channel. On passage for Ramsgate, the wind was from the north, and fairly fresh, giving rise to a rather bumpy sea, which continued to be encountered until the shelter of the Margate Sands was reached.

Whilst off Ramsgate the engine blew a cylinder head joint, and Rover Jackson made a return trip to London by rail, to obtain spares, thus involving a day's delay at Ramsgate.

After leaving Ramsgate, the wind went round to south-west, and this condition prevailed throughout the passage from Dover to Calais, causing ‘Minotaur’ to roll rather violently. After clearing Customs, the Troop locked both craft into the ship basin, and prepared to go ashore. Calais proved to be an unending source of delight with such a lot to see, and with so many things of interest, in consequence it was with regret that everyone finally embarked for Boulogne. Off Cap Gris Nez quite heavy seas were again in evidence, and the whaler in tow astern became almost unmanageable, and in addition developed a serious leak. On reaching Boulogne, the ‘Minotaur’ berthed in the Basin Loubet, alongside a vessel called the ‘Plaver’ (General Steam Navigation Co., on regular service to London), and when one member of our crew was seen by a French stevedore to be carrying a guitar case, a brief musical interlude for the latter's benefit became unavoidable (who says the British are not a musical race !?).

The return passage commenced from Boulogne, Dover being reached on the following day, and from there the course was round the North Foreland and across the Estuary to Harwich, and thence on to Pin Mill, where the whaler was left in readiness for the Troop Camp which commenced on the following Saturday.

Towards the end of August, war appeared inevitable. Instructions were received for ‘Minotaur’ to be held in readiness for the putting into operation of the P.L.A. River Emergency Service (R.E.S). On the 1st of September instructions were received from the P.L.A. for the ‘Minotaur’ to be manned and for her to proceed to the mustering point for the R.E.S.

When war was declared on 3rd September, ‘Minotaur’ was based on the Putney Station of the R.E.S. at the Thames Rowing Club boathouse. She was manned by Rovers Foster, Adlam, Jackson, Harris and A. Towndrow. Work consisted of A.R.P. practices, combined with regular river patrols.

After six weeks, the R.E.S. was re-organised and the ‘Minotaur’ was stood down and returned to the Troop, to be held as a reserve, whilst her crew were re-mustered to other craft.

One of the first effects of War on the 1st Mortlake was that the S.M., John Weeden, as a member of the Royal Naval Volunteer Supplementary Reserve, was immediately called into the R.N.V.R., and Tom Towndrow returned to leadership of the Troop until joining the Patrol Service, being replaced by Mr. G. E. White.

1940.

During May ‘Minotaur’ took part in the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force (B.E.F) from the Dunkirk beaches, or to give the occasion its official title, ‘Operation Dynamo’.

The developments immediately preceding the evacuation were that on 29th May 1940 she was requisitioned by the. Admiralty and instructions were received by the Group to undertake delivery to Sheerness. In the hands of T. Towndrow and F. Jackson, she reached her destination at 8 p.m. on the following day, and as there was no Naval crew available to take her over, continued to Ramsgate.

Here the Troop crew was joined by two armed Naval ratings, and having taken on provisions and fuel, received detailed operational instructions to get under way for the French coast.

The crossing commenced at 10.45 a.m. on 31st May 1940 and took 6 hours to complete. During the passage, innumerable destroyers manoeuvred in the closest proximity to the course of ‘Minotaur’, their washes at times threatening to capsize her.

The beach was approached initially with the greatest caution in view of the large numbers of wrecks and other submerged obstacles; ‘Minotaur’ then commenced her task of towing boats laden with troops to vessels lying offshore; or to conveying troops on her own decks and transferring to the larger vessels.

This activity had not been long in operation before an air attack developed upon six destroyers a quarter of mile distant from the ‘Minotaur’ and on troops in adjacent sections of the beach.

The destroyers opened fire, but the aircraft dropped sticks of bombs, on the beach and among the destroyers. The latter then dispersed and proceeded to circle in the vicinity of ‘Minotaur’ at high speed.

By the time the action finished, one enemy aircraft had been destroyed for the regrettable loss of two destroyers sunk, in addition, there were hideous losses on the beach.

‘Minotaur’ then continued in the evacuation from the beaches, until fuel ran low, when she returned to Ramsgate. Her crew transferred to another craft, as subsequent .crossings were undertaken by faster boats.

The ‘Minotaur’ then proceeded to Dunkirk Harbour under the escort of a large sea-going tug. The next assignment was evacuation from the mole in the harbour, in conjunction with the tug; this was completed barely in time, as Wehrmacht field artillery got the range, and the mole came under heavy fire, it finally being demolished.

For the return crossing 'Minotaur’s' crew again transferred, this time to a Naval cutter. This craft was laden with troops, and since no local charts were available to the officer in command, A/R.SL. Towndrow and Rover Jackson were able to assist in navigation and were back in Ramsgate following. a passage of nine hours duration.

This completed 1st Mortlake's participation in this historic operation. However, three other members of the Troop. also took part, by crewing other craft from Chiswick; one of which evacuated as many as two hundred troops.

On completion of Operation ‘Dynamo’ instructions were received for 'Minotaur' to leave Ramsgate and proceed to Sheerness.

At Sheerness she was inspected by Capt. Wharton, R.N., who stated that she would be repaired for Admiralty service, and that the opportunity presented itself for members of the crew to sign-on for duration in the Patrol Service.

As far as the 'Minotaur' was concerned, there followed a period of refitting and conversion, and by the end of June all was ready, and in convoy with some dozen other small ships, she proceeded downstream and round to Brightlingsea to begin her Naval service proper.

The following members joined the Patrol Service and served either in 'Minotaur' or other craft:- Rovers F. Jackson, Clements, S. Brown, Ashcroft, Seymour and T. Towndrow.

Extract from the 'Minotaur' Log Book

Operation Dynamo.

29th May 1940. The 'Minotaur' was requisitioned by the Admiralty. Instructions were received for her to proceed forthwith to Sheerness. A/S/M Morrell, Scout J Towndrow and myself provided the crew. Rover Jackson (F) was picked up at Greenhithe. A/S/M Morrell and J Towndrow were put ashore at Southend Pier. Jackson and I carried on in the 'Minotaur' to Ramsgate to take part in historic Naval ‘Operation Dynamo’

T Towndrow A/RSL.

In the May 1941 issue of the ‘Buzz’, it was reported that the 'Minotaur' had finally been purchased by the Ministry of Shipping for the sum of £300. The sum was immediately invested in War Savings for the day when it would be possible either to buy her back or obtain another big ship.

Extract from ‘Buzz’ Newsletter dated April 1943.

H.M.Y. Minotaur. Tom (Towndrow) recently had occasion to visit the East Coast and managed to have a look at the old tub, which was still in commission manned by some ex-fishermen. The crew expressed no surprise when they heard that Tom was now in the submarine service, they thought he had done his preliminary training in the ‘Minny’ which is a libel to say the least. She is standing up well to the stresses and strains of war and we have, on advice, applied to the Ministry of War Transport to be advised of any craft they may wish to sell, and if the old tub is ever paid off, we intend to get her back for sentimental reasons if for no other.

Extract from the 'Minotaur' Log Book regarding War Duties.

HMY Minotaur was based on Brightlingsea and Walton-on-Naze for the whole of her five years’ war service.

Armed with light machine guns and P.A.C Rockets, her main job was night coastal patrol work to report enemy mine laying activities and to give warning of any attempted invasion.

For the first years of this period, she was manned by a ‘Scout’ crew, thereafter she was manned by other patrol service crews.

Towards the end of 1940, when the 'Minotaur' had been on charter to the Navy for six months, they purchased her for £300 (making a sum of £324 with outstanding charter money)

Proviso was however made for the Troop to be given the first opportunity of her repurchase after the war if she should still be in being.

T Towndrow.

1945.

During October 1945, the Troop was informed that the 'Minotaur' (renamed " Labyrinth ") was no longer required by the Admiralty, and that she could be repurchased for a nominal sum. After roughly five years of being without a power craft, and, of scouting under increasingly difficult conditions, this was splendid news, and the earliest possible opportunity was taken to inspect her.

She was finally located in a mud berth at Wallasea Bay near Burnham-on-Crouch.

Negotiations were immediately started with the Ministry of Shipping for repurchase, and during the weekend 22nd-24th November with a crew comprised of G.S.M. White, S. M. Harris, Rover R. Brookes, S.M. Betties (of 14th Richmond), Mr. J. Sharp and Vic Flexman, the return passage up-river was undertaken. By 1600 hours on the Sunday evening, the ‘Discovery’ was reached, and 'Minotaur' remained moored in Kings Reach until the following weekend, when she was taken up to Richmond and made fast to 14th Richmond's moorings, in preparation for a machinery overhaul and refitting.

1946.

In March ‘Minotaur’ was taken to Troop moorings above Chiswick Bridge, and work continued upon her throughout the spring and summer months.

On 25th November ‘Minotaur’ was damaged by the motor tug ‘Wortha’ and the moorings were dragged. Unfortunately, considerable damage was done to her hull, necessitating her removal to the repair yard of Thames Steam Tug and Lighterage Co. at Brentford. On completion of repair work, she was left on the P.L.A. public buoys, immediately below Kew Toll House.

In early June an invitation was received from the Chief Scout to attend the Jamboree at Moisson, near Paris in August, together with 'Minotaur'. In view of the unreliable condition of her motive power, however, some consideration had to be given to ways and means of improving this situation, and Imperial Headquarters offered financial assistance in obtaining and installing a reconditioned 30hp Kelvin B.4., sleeve valve, petrol-paraffin engine, known to be available at Messrs. Tough Bros.

This unit was duly installed, and following a vigorous refit, and scrubbing and painting from stem to stern, 'Minotaur' was underway for the Continent once again on 2nd August, after a great send-off from friends and well-wishers.

By midnight Southend Pier was abeam, and 13.50 hours on the following day saw her off Sheerness, underway for swinging the compass. Shortly afterwards an engine defect developed, which resulted in a delay of 24 hours; fortunately help was on hand from H.M.S. ‘Eskimo’ a fleet destroyer, whose First Lieutenant and Engineering Officers were at one time former Scouts.

On Tuesday, 5th August, the Troop contingent was again underway and at 16.00 hours secured to the western wall of Ramsgate Harbour. Ramsgate was left at mid-day on Wednesday, and a course set for Dover. The sea was fairly lively, and off Dover Harbour one enormous wave broke clean over 'Minotaur', pouring below and almost stopping the engine. The course thenceforth was via Dungeness, and eventually on Friday morning land was sighted, and Le Havre reached. by mid-day. At this stage the decision was reached to enter the Seine by way of the Tankerville Canal, and at 5 o'clock in the evening, the first lock was negotiated. A few miles up the canal a stop was made for the night at the small town of Harfleur.

The Seine was reached at 16.00 hours on the following day, and despite rumours of persistent ebb tides of very considerable strength, excellent progress was made on the flood which continued until Rouen where the night was spent. Next morning, an early start was made, again on the flood tide, and since some doubt was felt regarding mud banks and bridges which might prove un negotiable, an approach was made to the master of one of the many large barges in evidence on the river. He and his wife were most charming and helpful, giving the utmost guidance and offering the hospitality of their beautifully kept barge home.

With the aid of a map prepared with the assistance of the barge-master, 'Minotaur' pushed on toward Moisson, and after passing through a series of locks, arrived at the jamboree site at 9.30 on the Sunday evening. The camp was beautifully situated on an island, surrounded by trees and bounded on one side by the camp of a Belgian Sea Scout troop, and on the other by some French Sea Scouts. The 'Minotaur' anchored just off the site and attracted a lot of interest amongst campers and visitors alike.

Shortly after arrival at the " Camp Marins ", the Chief Sea Scout of France came alongside to welcome the Troop to The Sixth World Jamboree of Peace ", and. was followed soon afterwards by Mr. Denham Christie, the British Sea Scout Commissioner, who had arrived the previous day in an especially chartered craft called the ‘Loyang’, together with a crew of 12 Sea Scouts selected from groups throughout the U.K.

On Monday she was "dress shipped " with International Code and other bunting, presenting a very gay picture. The crew of ‘Loyang’ and 1st Mortlake combined to form Troop No. 147, and shared routine camp and galley duties in the British part of the camp.

On the Tuesday afternoon the French Premier inspected the island, and in conversation expressed himself as most impressed by the 'Minotaur.' On the following Thursday ‘Camp Marins’ was inspected by the second-in-command of British Naval Reserves, who remarked favourably upon the smartness of Troop No. -147.

Friday was International Sea Scout Day, and. various contests in swimming and boating took place. In the swimming events, Troop No. 147 took fourth place in the relay race; in the kayak obstacle race a place was also gained, and in the race for whaler pulling Great Britain was the winner by 3-4 boat lengths.

On Sunday, 17th August, after breakfast, the Troop attended a big " Scouts' Own " service in the arena of the main camp, and in the evening of the same day everyone attended a camp fire. Monday, 18th August, was devoted to visiting Paris, where most interest was naturally derived from such spectacles as Notre Dame, the Sacre Coeur, and the Eiffel Tower.

The return to Mortlake started on Tuesday, 19th August, and ‘'Minotaur' moved away from "Camp. Marins" with ensign lowered. Giving three hearty cheers for her French hosts, she proceeded downstream. Two hours later Port Villez Lock had been entered, and the Troop hove-to for the night off a sandy beach near Mausseaux. 20.00 hours on Wednesday saw our members ashore in Rouen, but Thursday was the occasion of some delay to progress, as 'Minotaur’s' reverse gear required serious attention; fortunately, a local engineer with proper workshop facilities kindly offered his services, and 'Minotaur' was away under full power again within eight hours.

Saturday, 23rd August, saw the 'Minotaur' at sea; she had cleared Le Havre at 14.57 hours and with a fair to fresh northerly wind, a cloudless sky, and the barometer high and still rising, she headed out to the swept-channel buoys. Departure from the French coast occurred at. 20.00 hours, four miles off Fecamp, and landfall made off Hastings early next morning. The eastern entrance of Dover Harbour was negotiated 24 hours after leaving Le Havre, compared with 15 hours taken for the outward passage. The anchors were dropped at the railway pier, and letter " Q " in International Code hoisted for health and customs clearance.

Monday, 25th August, was devoted to steaming up through the Downs, and around North Foreland, and then on up river. Southend Pier was abeam at 17.40 hours and 'Minotaur' anchored at Erith Yacht Club for the night. The ‘Discovery’ was reached at 08.30 hours on the following morning, and Mortlake by mid-day.

This was a remarkable and memorable trip, and in every way provided adequate recompense and justification for the very hard work involved in its organisation, and the carrying out in practice., The total fuel consumption for the entire voyage amounted to 226.25 gallons, over a period of 134 hours 44 minutes steaming, giving an hourly consumption of 1.81 gallons, and the total propeller revolutions were in the neighbourhood of.65,000.

The complete voyage of just under 800 miles was achieved at a cost of £27.

1948.

With upkeep work on 'Minotaur' increasing every year due to. her age and with an expanding Troop with ambitions for having a beamier and consequently speedier sea craft, it was decided during early 1948 that it was time to look around for a larger craft, and in the meantime to arrange for the sale of 'Minotaur'.

In due course the Schooner Agency of Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, sold her to Mr. C. Parnett, of Enfield, Middlesex, who took her to her new home at Heybridge Basin, near Maldon, Essex.

The purchase of a new craft, a 52ft. 6in. ex-Naval Harbour Launch (Steam) was made in April.

What happened to the 'Minotaur'??

The only reference that was found relating to the fate of the 'Minotaur', and it is assumed that this was the original vessel, was in an article on the Internet entitled Sea Scout Boat Minotaur - A Dunkirk 'Little Ship'

http://www.scouting.milestones.btinternet.co.uk/minotaur.htm

which stated:-

 

After that, the trail went exceedingly cold and despite my appeals to the Thames Conservancy and elsewhere for information nothing was forthcoming until Mr Roy Masini, a friend in Scouting currently researching a book on the History of Sea Scouting contacted me. Roy has links with the 1st Mortlake Sea Scouts and at a recent reunion he was reliably informed that around 1978, the 'Little Ship' was hauled out of the water for repair, an activity which unfortunately led to breaking her 'back' i.e., the boat's keel was fractured. It is at this point that it was decided the historic vessel was beyond repair and so it was burnt.

 

 

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