The article on Scillonian III bought back many memories to me. Indentured at Thornycrofts, Woolston Works, between 1950 and 1955, I helped build Scillonian I.
Some decades later, I took my family down to Torquay for a holiday. On walking around the waterfront, I spotted a large vessel with a patent Thornycroft funnel (invented by an apprentice boiler-maker). As we drew alongside, I could see the name Devonia painted on the stern. I asked a crew-man how his ship performed, he was full of praise and said they were having a disco on-board tonight as they cruise Torbay and why don’t we come along. To a chorus of “can we go dad!?” from my three children, I agreed.
It was a balmy evening as we set sail, but I was more interested in the ship than what was going on around me. Looking at the davits and lifeboats, I noticed a build-up of paint. Suddenly a voice at my elbow said “Can I help you sir?” I said it doesn’t look as if this gear has been used lately! He replied; “I can assure you it has, I am the owner of this ship.” I said “Well I helped build her!”
His eyes lit up, and he asked me to tell him about her as she is so well built. He said she must have had a subsidy to afford things like two-inch thick solid teak doors and many other fine features. I explained that Thornycrofts had three admiralty surveyors based in their yard and they made sure everything was done to as near to perfection as possible. This meant that when merchant were constricted, the same skills applied. The owner stated that due to taking the ground at Penzance, one plate had to be renewed, but otherwise she was in excellent condition.
I was invited up onto the bridge to meet the skipper and then down to the engine room to meet the chief. From memory, she still had her original Lister Blackstone main engines and Gardner auxiliaries, all running smoothly. Sometime later, I believe the owner had a dispute with the local authorities and moved Devonia up to Scotland. I then lost track of her.
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