The sound of a crackling analogue radio
made from bakelite and a black & white television.
If you can remember this, you may well have ridden on the
William Alchorn, or maybe taken a ride on one of the Bluebird
speedboats from the rear of the pier, where that jetty is all
In 1861, Edward Allchorn established a pleasure boating business to operate from Eastbourne's beach, providing holiday makers with cruises along the seafront and out to sea. The demand grew steadily for this type of attraction, to the extent that many other operators entered the trade and Eastbourne's beaches became extremely busy with boating activities in the years that followed.
As the opportunities for international travel grew after the war years, visitor numbers declined such that by the early 1960's only Allchorn Pleasure Boats and the Sayers Brothers remained as competitors in the trade.
In 1964 the Sayers Brothers decided to withdraw from the business, and the Allchorn family acquired their business and their vessel, the Southern Queen, which still delights visitors today sailing under the house flag of Allchorn Pleasure Boats. In the mid 1990's Brian Allchorn, great grandson of Edward Allchorn, decided to retire and placed the business up for sale. A third party family took the business on and operated it successfully until 2000 when they elected to pursue other interests. In May 2001 Allchorn Pleasure Boats was acquired by Maritima Limited, and who continued this unique service until 2006. Ownership passed to James Foster, owner of Eastbourne Marine, in May 2007, and services will operate as normal (details on their website www.allchornpleasureboats.co.uk)
During the winter months, both the William Allchorn and the Southern Queen undergo maintenance and refits to not only ensure the vessels are ready for each new season, but also to preserve this unique piece of maritime heritage. Both craft are entered in the National Register of Historic Vessels at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich. Additionally, the company owns a World War II Amphibious DUKW which ferries passengers from the shore to the pleasure boats at low tide.
BID - Jason Foster and Lloyd Stebbings crouch in front of
the boats that they would like to save. Although they achieved
a lot of public support for the proposed project, as far as we
know it was the complexity of the application process that
defeated the bid. We know that applying for help from the
Heritage Lottery Fund can be an expensive and time consuming
process. There is also the match funding requirement, where
sponsors are usually required to top up.
BBC NEWS 26 FEB 2014
A campaign to raise £500,000 has been launched to save the remains of the last two pleasure boats of a 200-year-old industry in Eastbourne.
The Southern Queen and William Allchorn have not run for a number of years because of vandalism and the recession.
The boats, which had taken tourists on trips to Beachy Head lighthouse since the 1950s, are rotting on the beach.
Now boat enthusiast Lloyd Stebbings wants to raise £15,000 to buy them with the rest needed for restoration.
Mr Stebbings, who runs Pevensey Bay marina, said in the industry's heyday there were 113 pleasure boat licences issued in Eastbourne.
He said: "At one point the pleasure boats were moored along the coast from the Redoubt Fortress to the Wish Tower."
"These are the last two remaining and they represent 200 years of pleasure boat history in Eastbourne."
He said the Southern Queen was completed in 1950 and used to take visitors around the lighthouse with her sister vessel, the Eastbourne Queen.
The William Allchorn was a purpose-built pleasure boat, commissioned by the Allchorn Brothers of Newhaven in 1950, and funded by the Ministry of Defence.
Both boats have many of the original fixtures and fittings including life rafts and masts and rigging.
Mr Stebbings intends to set up a charitable trust and is appealing for private donations as well as corporate sponsorship.
He said he has had almost a dozen people come forward offering to volunteer to help restore the boats.
"This is a very rare opportunity to help or become part of a restoration project to return the boats to the sea and restore some of Eastbourne's pride as a top UK holiday resort," he added.
HERALD 26 FEB 2014
A campaign has been launched to save Eastbourne’s Allchorn pleasure boats.
The Southern Queen and William Allchorn were once a familiar sight sailing along the coast off Eastbourne to Beachy Head and back but in the last couple of years and due to the economic crisis, have fallen into a state of disrepair and are now moored on the beach near the lifeboat station.
The next plan is to obtain some form of charitable status so grants can be applied for and the long task of getting the boats back on the water can begin.
“Time is starting to run out for these wonderful old ladies of the sea and Eastbourne is all set to lose yet another piece of its fantastic history and something that has been part of it for the last 65 years. We live in a throwaway society and are in danger in losing our values, identity and our history.
“Both boats were built locally. It’s so important we save these beautiful craft for future generations.
The William Allchorn was a purpose built pleasure boat, commissioned by the Allchorn Brothers of Newhaven, in 1950 and funded by the Ministry of Defence Compensation Fund as recompense for Enchantress, which was lost during the Dunkirk evacuation.
“This is a very rare opportunity to help or become part of a restoration project to return the boats to the sea and restore some of Eastbourne’s pride as a top UK holiday resort.
“We understand this is a long term project but we need to be able to buy and store these boats soon before they get sold as projects and wind up rotting on that mud berth from hell.”
The boats’ owner Jason Foster together with mariners Lloyd Stebbings and Daniel Goldsmith are trying to save the boats and the campaign is gathering momentum with support from Eastbourne Borough Council, other local authorities and marine and historic organisations.
Lloyd, who lives in Pevensey Bay and runs Pevensey Bay Marine, said, “One big mistake that we are about to make is to let the Southern Queen and the William Allchorn pleasure boats decay and die on the beach in Eastbourne.
The Southern Queen was built in a barn at Westham Village not far from Pevensey Castle and taken almost two miles by road to her launching site in Norman’s Bay.
Lloyd said, “Time is getting short now and a year or so down the road they will become so much fire wood and yet more local history will go up in smoke and be lost for ever.
Nearly all of the fixtures and fittings including life rafts, some of which are handmade and are dated 1921, all the masts and rigging are still in existence, in good condition undercover and in one place near the boats but maybe not for much longer.
“Long term these boats would need to earn the own keep and pay their own way for their survival so, the initial thought is to run day shopping trips’ from Eastbourne to Brighton weather permitting and day cruises to the Isle of Wight and back through the summer months.
The William Allchorn is 54 feet in length, weighs 36 tons, is constructed of wood using double-diagonal planking, and is almost certainly the largest beach-launched pleasure boat in service today. She was purpose built as a pleasure boat in 1950, in Newhaven, East Sussex, by E. Cantell & Son. William Allchorn is licensed to carry 100 passengers.
Eastbourne residents and visitors have been surprised by this year's new look for the company's largest vessel, the William Allchorn. The usual colours of the vessel, a white hull and yellow funnel, have been replaced with a lavender (French Grey) hull and red funnel, and this has met with some mixed reactions.
Christopher Laycock, Co-Director of Allchorn Pleasure Boats, explained that 2006 marks the 50th anniversary of the merger between the Union-Castle Mail Steamship Company Limited and Clan Line Steamers to form British & Commonwealth Shipping Limited. As with Allchorn Pleasure Boats founded in 1861, the origins of both these famous shipping companies go back to 1857 for Union-Castle Line and 1877 for Clan Line Steamers.
The annual reunion for seagoing and shore staff of these companies will be held this year in Eastbourne during early August. Having served as a navigating officer aboard vessels of both these companies during his seafaring career, Christopher Laycock and Allchorn Pleasure Boats are contributing to this year's event by providing an exclusive cruise to Beachy Head for those attending the reunion in William Allchorn carrying the replica colours of the Union-Castle mail ships and flying the British and Commonwealth Shipping house flag. 'William Allchorn will revert though to the usual livery for the 2007 season.
Foster and Lloyd Stebbings pictured in front of the William
Allchorn and Southern Queen boats that so badly need
attention. This is a very rare opportunity to help or
become part of a restoration project to return the boats to
the sea and restore some of Eastbourne’s pride as a top UK
can help us to make the Allchorn boats restoration project successful by giving what you
can. Please visit the official website of Allchorn Maritime
Ltd to make a contribution.
PIER - Is a monument at risk. A fire ravaged the 144 year
icon in 2014, but (apparently) there is no legal requirement to rebuild the
Blue Room from the insurance payout that is reported to be
around £10,000,000. Pier revenues have fallen sharply as a
result of package holidays. In the case of Eastbourne pier
transport to and from the town is one of the major issues
where the transport system as it stands in woefully
MAPS - The above is a satellite view from one of the most
famous search engine companies. The snapshot was taken in
September 2015, but still shows the Blue Room intact. The
current owner, Sheikh
Abid Gulzar, is doing a lot of work to try and raise
sufficient funds to make the pier popular again.
Lottery Fund Coastal Communities Fund
Herald news local bid to get pleasure boats back on the water