The History of St Joan
St Joan was built in 1929 by well-known shipbuilders JW Brooke & Co Ltd of Lowestoft, for Nigel Guinness who was the brother of Ken Guinness, the then-famous racing driver. She was based on earlier successful Brooke designs and is 52ft in length, with a draft of 3 ft and a beam of 11ft. She was constructed from Canadian Redwood on Steamed Oak and Elm frames and ribs, with decks of vanished Pitch Pine.
Described as a Gentleman's Coastal Express Cruiser, St Joan was originally built for cruising the canals of Europe. However she has spent most of her life cruising British coastal waters and rivers, including the coasts of Wales, the Isles of Scilly, Ireland and South Devon. (It was not until 1999 that her owner of the time embarked on a cruise of the river Seine, taking her at last to the inland waterways of Europe.)
After Nigel Guiness St. Joan passed through several private owners. Then in 1940 the British Government requisitioned her from a Major Frey (her current owner). She was used for Air/Sea Rescue, and was in the ownership of the Ministry of War Transport until 1948. St Joan is included in The National Registry of Historic Vessels in recognition of her active service during WW II as an Air/Sea Rescue Launch from 1940 to 1948.
From 1948 onwards she passed through several owners, until in 1990, she changed hands yet again and her new owners moved her to South River Marine's St. Olaves yard on the River Waveney, very near the site of the Brooke yard where she was built.
A major refit and restoration project was then undertaken between the years 1990 and 1995 by the highly skilled craftsmen at SRM , at a cost of some £270,000. The quality of the workmanship employed during the restoration period can clearly be seen. The interior is particularly impressive having been restored very closely to the original design but sympathetically incorporating modern equipment, facilities and controls. These include 2 showers and electric flushing loos, and up to date navigation and safety equipment. The galley was equipped with gas hob and oven, microwave, and 2 refrigerators.
Twin Cummins 115HP diesel engines, together with hydraulic steering, were also installed, making her capable of capable of cruising at 10 knots all day with a maximum speed of 13 knots. Original or early equipment was all refurbished, including many of the deck fittings. Where some items could not be restored, facsimiles were recast from the originals.
She was purchased towards the end of the restoration and her new owner commissioned the construction of her elegant tender "Flame", a traditional mahogany-on-oak hand-built lugsail/rowing tender on removable davits. She was then moved to the River Thames, but was returned her each year to SMR at St. Olaves for annual maintenance.
Tony Goodhead, her current owner, purchased her in 2003, after many months of searching for a vessel such as St Joan. He fitted a new prop shaft, a new oak keel band and other below the waterline improvements. She is now berthed at Teddington on the river Thames, at the site of the famous Tough Brothers' boatyard, where many of the Dunkirk Little Ships were assembled in 1940 prior to braving the channel crossing.
The vessel is currently a picture of classical elegance from a byegone age. Virtually original redwood on steamed Canadian Elm and English Oak comprise the hull, with a Mahogany transom, and Pitch Pine decks. The Brazilian Mahogany and Pitch Pine panelling of the fitted interior produces a rich and classic appearance and is in immaculate condition.
St. Joan combines elegant lines with
the capacity to serve as a comfortable cruising boat, and is excellent
for entertaining. There is ample room below for up to twelve guests
for a buffet style lunch whilst enjoying a peaceful cruise on the river.
The large fore deck and the stern cockpit are perfect places to sit
at ease and enjoy the beautiful scenery passing by.
St Joan won the Penton Hook Trophy at the 26th Thames Traditional Boat Rally at Henley in 2003 for "Best Restoration to Original Design" and was Runner Up for "Best Presentation of Boat and Crew".