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ShipbuilderMN

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I know very little about such things, but found this in a corner of Preston Dock Marina this afternoon, and it provoked my curiosity.    I thought it had a look of World War II about it!    The name on the stern was partly obscured, but may have been "Langemark".

Bob

Preston_Dock_30th_May_2017_Large.jpg

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That reminds me of the Airfix RAF rescue launch I built many, many years ago......................check out this page............looks like the cockpit has been extended to rear of launch, but all the "portholes are there...............but what do I know!!  Just an ex-army bod.  I note one at medway boats on this page very similiar and in better condition

 

https://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1280&bih=890&q=vosper+torpedo+boat&oq=vosper+&gs_l=img.1.1.0l10.2582.5390.0.9088.9.9.0.0.0.0.294.1104.1j5j1.7.0....0...1.1.64.img..2.7.1096.0..35i39k1.AVrqmXXJFxs#hl=en&tbm=isch&q=raf+rescue+launch+for+sale&imgrc=_

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 Interesting picture, certainly has the look of High Speed Launch from WWII. The hull is built using double diagonal planking, the main form of building in this era.

 

My thoughts are leaning towards a 'Control Target Boat'

http://www.bmpt.org.uk/other_boats_history/Control Target Boats/index.htm

Towards the bottom of the page 8101 & 8102

 

Kev

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It does look like the control boat!    It looks like someone is "doing it up" as there were some new stores piled up aft, but no-one there to ask.

Bob

 

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2754l.jpg

 

Reminds me more of a converted RAF RTTL (Rescue & Target Towing Launch) which date from the 50's. A bit like the ones they used to represent the MTBs at Malta in the film ' Hell Boats', where a Ford class ML became the E-Boat

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This may be a converted 72ft MTB - the planking and rim fits for that too. The bridge being extended backward as a cabin. What was the length? RAF launches were 60-65ft, while mtbs or mgbs were longer in general (70-72ft)

 

Tim H

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I agree Geoff it could well be a RTTL, it was the slatted bin forward of the wheelhouse that steered me towards the RAF.

 

3 hours ago, Hardcastle said:

RAF launches were 60-65ft

The largest were in fact the Fairmile D Rescue Boats @ 115ft

 

Kev

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I know almost nowt about this particular vessel but I do know just a little bit of history.

Nothing is ever simple once the military get involved.

 The RASC ran the boats that were used by the War Department for all sorts of purposes.

In this case they were High Speed Target Towing Launches that were used to allow coastal gun batteries to train at shooting high speed targets in estuaries and near ports/harbours.

The RASC had a number of these. 

For reasons best known to a desk wallah somewhere, one group was named the 'Battlefield Class' and all of the boats in the class were named after battles fought by the British army.

 

However, the first eight were ex RN MTBs built by Thorneycroft in 1942/43. They were 75ft 6inches long and were passed to the army after they developed cracked frames.

Thorneycroft then supplied further Battlefield Class boats that were only 69 ft long with a completely different hull; I have not got a number delivered for these.

Then British Power Boats supplied some more, still part of the Battlefield Class, that were very similar to the RAF Hants and Dorset High Speed Launches. They were 68ft long and Langemark was one of these boats.

 

So that is all I know. If Langemark is indeed original then it is a unique survivor; a 69ft Thorneycroft boat called Amiens survived in 2012:

http://www.nationalhistoricships.org.uk/register/1337/amiens-rasc

I would like to think it is still intact.

 

I hope this helps, the entire history of military coastal craft is still not properly resolved and i hope someone else can fill the gaps (caverns!) then I have left with my little bit of knowledge.

The RASC operated a weird array of boats, many of which are poorly documented, used for all manner of things including minesweeping!

John

 

Just out of interest, pre WW2 my father went school in Cobh, one of the Treaty Ports in the south of Eire, his father was in the Garrison Artillery baed on Spike Island which had a few coastal guns.

Commuting from the island to the harbour and back was courtesy of the RASC and an old steam pinnace or puffer called Winstanley.

This trip was enlivened every week or so by the old IRA sitting on the hill below the cathedrals taking the odd potshot at the funnel and keeping the crew on their toes.

Can anybody tell me any more about the Winstanley, please?

Oh,the Royal Arsenal in Woolwich had two large and specially built barges called Gog and Magog.

These were designed to transport large gun barrels for trials and proof testing at Shoeburyness, I believe. 

Any information on those would be nice.

Thanks again, John

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Here is a stern view of it.    Whoever owns it must be quite well-off, because the berthing fees are pretty high on a berth like that.    I can't get down to the lower walk because of a padlocked gate, but it is close enough to shout across if anyone is onboard.   Work appears to be in progress, and the thing partially obscuring the name on the stern appears to be a platform that can be lowered to take small boats alongside, or swim from when at anchor.     Work appears to be going on, as there are what appears to be new stores piled up aft..   Although not all that interested myself (just slightly curious), I am happy to keep an eye on it, and maybe find out what it was, if anyone is interested.

Bob

Langemark_stern_view.jpg

 

Edited by ShipbuilderMN

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Here is a zoom of the stern.     I think you can rest assured that it is being refurbished, maybe as a private yacht.

Bob

Langemark_Stern_close_up.jpg

 

Edited by ShipbuilderMN
Added image in post.

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She looks a bit poorly

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It reminds me of the boats the RAF used for attending to the flyingboat aeroplanes, eg the Shorts Sunderland

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Crickey, just realised how long I spent looking at photos trying to find a match! John is right- 68ft British Power Boat Company  ex-Langermark. 

 

And here she is...

 

http://www.bmpt.co.uk/what-happened-to-minxy_topic343.html

http://blog.through-the-gaps.co.uk/2012/09/sapphire-sails-saturday-sees-empty-quay.html

 

nhblog20110816-7498.jpg

 

There is another 'Battlefield' survivor built by Thorneycroft, presumably the more or less the same design (?) -

 

http://www.nationalhistoricships.org.uk/register/1337/amiens-rasc 

Edited by Killingholme

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Looks like the correct one.   What year was Langemark built?   

Bob

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Gentlemen

 

I came across this site whilst looking for pictures of Langemark on the net. I was the partner of the late owner of this boat and hopefully I can give you the correct answers to the questions you have posed.

 

She really is Langemark, British Power Boat Company ex target tower, 68ft. She was built and launched in 1944.

 

My partner Toni bought her in the early 90s (when she was named Minxy) from her original civilian owner who had himself bought her sometime  in the 60s (she was released from service in the late 50s). Toni renamed her "Altori" and set about converting her to a liveaboard,  intending to sail her  to the Med and live on her full time there. The previous owner had already done some conversion on her to turn her into a kind of "Gentleman's Weekend Yacht" with several guest cabins and a large and well-stocked bar. Toni pulled out the bar, extended the galley, put in the latest (for the time) comms charting and navigation equipment, bowthruster,2 ton crane on the aft deck etc... and set off for Spain in 1996.

 

After  a summer spent dragging the ship's anchor all over the sea floor of the Bay of Fornells, Menorca (if you've been there you'll know what I mean) Toni ended up mooring her in Pedro's Boat Centre, Mahon, Menorca where  we lived untill 2011 when we sailed her back to the UK and into Preston Marina.

 

When Toni bought her we had no real idea what her military history had been. Toni was a military vehicle fan and collector (we've gone through Ferrets, M10s, Ducks, Anti Aircraft Guns in the back garden - you name it!). The previous owner had made no attempt to find out the boat's past - he was just not interested. We were determined to find out what her true name and history was and spent a lot of time and energy researching, eventually discovering who she was and establishing provenance. Once done we decided to rename her in her original l name.

 

When sailing her back we took a right battering going across Biscay - on the picture above of us sailing into Newlyn you can see the damage we took to the stern and davits, so in 2012 we slipped her out at Ramsey. It bucketed it down for the whole of the two weeks we were on the slip so although we managed to get the hull sorted, things like the deck and saloon roof just never got done.

 

Unfortunately Toni's health deteriorated very quickly not long after we got back from the Isle of Man and many fixes, repairs and even normal maintenance never got done. Sadly Toni passed away in February this year.

 

Langemark is now up for auction (due in November) and all the details on the boat including military and civvy history have been assembled by the broker (Preston Marina) and are available on their site with the URL www.langemark.co.uk

 

I'll revisit this topic in a few days to see if anyone has replied or has any questions they would like me to answer. In the meantime, thank you all for your interest. I have loved living on Langemark, she is a true classic military vehicle and a boat of great character and I hope whoever has her next will have the time, energy and understanding to give her the respect (and the refit!) she deserves.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hi Jenny

Thank you for sharing the information with us, most informative.

 

So sorry for your loss but it sounds like you may well have great memories

 

Kev

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Hi Jenny,

Sorry to hear of your loss.     Thanks for all the info.   I found all the pictures on the auction site very interesting.   Hope you get a good price.     For someone with the financial resources and plenty  energy it will make a fantastic project.      When I first saw her, felt that she was the most interesting boat in the dock, and wondered about her history.      

Best wishes

Bob 

 

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Hi Kev, Hi Bob

 

Many thanks for your kind thoughts.

 

According to the broker, she is generating quite considerable interest so I am really hopeful that someone will take her on as a restoration project. The only other Battlefield Class survivor we heard of (Adelhyde - we think, although cannot confirm) finally succumbed to the gribble worm and was scrapped in Gibraltar sometme around 2000. Luckily for us in Mahon, Menorca (where we were moored) the coastal waters are just a couple of degrees too cold for the worm to survive.

 

Once again, thank you for your interest.

 

Jenny

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This boat is now on Ebay.   Listed as:

Historic Project Boat

Note:

I do not know the owner, and have nothing whatsoever to do with this boat, neither will I be bidding, but have just put this on for anyone interested in watching it.   So far, it has reached £8,400!:smile:

Bob

 

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The reserve was met, and it sold for £12,599.99.   The bidding went from £10,200 to £12,599.99 in the last 30 seconds! 

Bob

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I will have a look tomorrow when I go to the dock estate to the supermarket for a bit of shopping.    The Ebay listing said that whoever purchased it would have to pay about £900 dock dues for the next three months.    Maybe they will take it away, as the engines work OK.  The listing had a link to Utube showing them test runnng both engines.    It looks a bit scruffy, but I think that is only superficial as some new planking has been put in the hull (pictured in listing), and the inside looks reasonable.      I would have thought it would be worth a lot more than what it sold for, but dock dues are a big big expense!

Bob

 

 

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Hi All - Many thanks for your interest. Sorry about the delay in replying (in Preston Hospital - nothing too serious - for last few days).

 

Yes, she has sold - we were surprised at the last minute surge in bids, but certainly aren't complaining. I've yet to meet the new owner so right at this moment I have no idea of their plans.

 

Bob - yes we had her lifted out for a few months in the summer of 2008 in Mahon where we replaced much of the double diagonal at both the bow and the stern and rebuilt both gearboxes. The weather was so hot that she lost 5 tons to evaporation (!) and when we put her back in the water had to spend 3 days in the crane slings to allow the wood to swell up again to tighten up the seams. Oh the joys of an old wooden boat!

 

Berthing fees at the Marina are just under £400 per month for a boat the size of Langemark, but Steve, the boss there is correct - they don't have the facilities to put her  in the yard for repair - their own fixed crane can lift about 15 tons and Langemark comes in at about 45 tons. The sticky gearbox linkage and overruning engine are pretty trivial to fix (just grease up the cables and work them for about 20 minutes).  even I would have confidence she could make it to Fleetwood where they have a big enough travel lift to get her onto the hardstanding. She would really better off slipped out - but the nearest slip big enough is at Ramsey (IOM) and I wouldn't like to sail her over there on winter seas. Although she looks scruffy and most of the repair work is more cosmetic than structural, she has been left a long time without maintenace and would  struggle in a really bad storm.

 

I will be speaking to the new owner soon and will find out what they intend to do with her - she is the last of her type and it would be so good to see her back to original spec - we have copies of the original plans, machine gun emplacements and all! Just where they would find 3 original Napier engines might present unsurmountable problems though!

 

Once again, thank you all for your interest. I'll post when I have spoken to the new owner.

 

All the best

Jenny

 

 

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Hi Jenny,

Thanks for all the interesting information.    We were watching the final few minutes of bidding, and as you say, the last 40 seconds or so, the bids were coming in thick and fast.   It would probably have gone higher if they had more time.       Many years ago, when I was in the  old cargo ship Richmond Castle (1944 vintage, same as me, same as Langemark)), we had four wooden lifeboats.   In port at every opportiunity, they were lowered into the water to keep the seams tight, but they usually leaked until their seams took up, and then they would be OK for a few weeks more!       I wondered if that big gantry could lift her out.     Back in the 50s, the side of the river next to the dock had a sandy beach and there were numerous boats run up, with people working on the on summer evenings and week-ends.   But these days, maybe due to lack of dredging, it is all green mud.   Some of the boats are still there, but in wrecked condition - all very sad - Bob     

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