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VANGUARD: Pro Gallery


Type:  Oyster Smack
Length:  45ft
Beam:  14ft 6ins
Draft:  4ft 6ins
Displacement:  11.5 tons
Engine:  Kelvin 44
Construction:  Pitch pine on oak
Builder:  R & J Prior, Burnham
Year:  1937

Working boats are designed to suit their trade and the waters in which they earn their living. Our East coast rivers are muddy, tidal and tricky to navigate. But the oyster fishermen of the region know their waters like the back of their hands and their boats are designed to suit them, with a shallow draft, a low freeboard and wide decks to provide ideal working platforms. The Burnham Oyster Company had Vanguard purpose-built for dredging and she was designed to turn in her own length. Her deck allowed six men to work in comfort hauling in the nets. The deckhouse provided the minimum of shelter. Vanguard certainly was not intended for the open sea and would roll like a pig in anything above force 5.

Skipper Grimwade took her across to Dunkirk in 1940 with Joe Clough as his engineer. They went with another oyster dredger, the Seasalter which also survived, and a ketch called Ma Joie which was abandoned and lost. They could not get into Dunkirk harbour, so they picked up the men from the beaches and 24 hours later, arrived back at Ramsgate loaded with troops.

At the end of the war, Keeble & Sons of Paglesham, Essex bought the Vanguard and put her back to oyster dredging which their family had done on the rivers Roach and Crouch for fifty years on thirty-four acres of rented oyster beds. But the bad winter of 1962 decimated the oyster population.

Those which survived the ice and the cold and succeeded in breeding since then, are now faced with the increasing hazards of pollution. So, W. Keeble sold Vanguard to Ron Pipe, a fisherman at Burnham-on-Crouch, who used her for in-shore fishing for a while and sold her again. Ten years later, Doug Whiting bought her back from another owner in a sorry state. Now he has enlarged her wheel-house, given up oyster fishing and has taken up shrimping on the Roach and Crouch.

As of February 2018, she was recovered in poor condition from Canvey Island to Burnham-on-Crouch, subject of a restoration appeal.

see:- (and several others).

Due to be celebrated on 30/05/18 by the mayor of Burnham-on-Crouch and several ADLS. vessels returning from the Ipswich Commemorative Cruise. Burnham-on-Crouch quayside plaque ceremony.

Updated May 2018.

Fri, 01/01/2010


Currently laying in Canvey Island after Fire Damage by Vandals. However as mentioned owned by my family (Keeble) for many years. Some history and her blueprints here:

Sun, 18/04/2010

Very sad to hear that Vanguard/CK69 has been stricken by misfortune, knew her well through Ron. Will she be repaired, how serious is the damage?



Fri, 08/03/2013 -

Just read the comments above. My dad owned Vanguard until his death some years ago now. I sold Vanguard to someone who was intending to restore her at the time. Does anyone know what condition she is in now?

Updated: 2020

Now at Burnham being restored.

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