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Type:  Passenger launch
Length:  40ft 6ins
Beam:  12ft 6ins
Draft:  2ft
Displacement:  Not known
Boat Engine:  Ford 6cyl Diesel
Construction:  Carvel
Builder:  Horn Bros., Southampton
Year:  1926

Silver Queen was built by Horn Brothers in Southampton in 1926 as a harbour launch. With a 2ft draught she was certainly never designed to cross the channel.

At the time of Dunkirk, she was towed across, because she was ideal for ferrying soldiers from La Panne beach to the larger destroyers and transports which brought them back to England. Boats of her kind were considered expendable once their task had been fulfilled and no-one would have expected her to come back unscathed. In fact, she was reported to have sunk, but was later re-floated.

She then found her way via Sheerness, where she was briefly owned by a Commander Carter, to Guernsey in the Channel Islands. She was then bought by C.B. Ferguson who renamed her Fermain V as she was used on the regular daily run from St Peter Port to Fermain Bay which is a popular holiday beach. This service was continued by his son Percy until 1996 when he retired, and she was laid up ashore.

After three years Fermain V was deteriorating badly and after discussions with the Dunkirk Little Ships Restoration Trust it was agreed that she should be transferred to them. Percy Ferguson very generously offered to pay for the repairs necessary to make her seaworthy.

Fermain V was based at Tilbury for two years, where she was used to train Sea Cadets in boat-handling skills.

Having taken part in the 2000 Commemorative Return to Dunkirk she is now based on the River Thames at Shepperton. She has appeared at the Thames Traditional Boat Rally amongst other upper Thames events.

In 2001 she made the 460-mile return journey to The International Festival of the Sea at Portsmouth.

In 2002 a new rudder was built by the Restoration Trust. Constructed of 8mm steel sheet, clad with Greenheart and weighs well over 1cwt the rudder is built to last.

On 11th May 2008 Fermain had the honour of H.R.H. Prince Michael of Kent on board for a sail by salute at Brocus Park, Windsor. Also, on board was Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. The Royal Yacht Squadron gave a 21 gun salute with their bronze cannons. The Brocus event was a fund raising event for charity.

In 2008 and 2009 Fermain joined other Little Ships at Kingston to transport Dunkirk old soldiers upriver to Weybridge Mariners Boat Club who put on Sunday lunch. With the Vets we also had the pleasure of transporting the Mayor of Spelthorne.

In preparation for a BBC documentary on the Little Ships Fermain V has been filming in the Pool of London with Dan Snow.

In time for the 2010 Commemorative Return Fermain V was sold in to private ownership by the Restoration Trust. In early 2011 the new owners had Michael Dennett and Son make some sympathetic alterations and restored her original name – Silver Queen.

Updated: 15/05/2011

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