Dunkirk Little Ship built by Thornycroft
BOAT NAME: Elsa II
BOAT TYPE: Motor Cruiser
BOAT LENGTH: 32ft 6ins
BOAT BEAM: 8ft 6ins
BOAT DRAFT: 3ft 9ins
BOAT DISPLACEMENT:9.5 Tons TM
BOAT CONSTRUCTION: Carvel Pitch Pine on Oak
BOAT BUILDER: Thornycroft
BOAT YEAR: 1929
DUNKIRK LITTLE SHIP
Elsa II was one of the first vessels to affiliate herself with the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships and holds one of the oldest Return plaques. She has always been in good hands until some time in the 90s when she was taken out of the water and left on land.
The story behind Elsa II restoration starts with Chris and Shelley Brightman who purchased her from us for a nominal sum soon after she arrived . They were blown away with the prospect of what Elsa could be and were excited about the opportunity to take her across to Dunkirk for the 2015 crossing.
We acquired her in 2013, she arrived bare boards and no floors
in other words a complete restoration
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32ft ‘built at Thornycroft's in 1929. She was owned by a former Thornycroft apprentice, Fred Bourne together with his wife Sheila, who was the secretary of The Thames Vintage Boat Club.
Also an early member of the ADLS, Chris & Shelley, were very keen for her to return back to the fleet for the forthcoming Dunkirk Return. This meant a full rebuild and re engineering within a year. This was not aided by the worst flooding in 100 years.
ELSA IN THE MAKING: A RACE TO DUNKIRK 2015
2014 I 2015
2014 was a difficult year severely effect by the worst flooding in the area for 100 years. However we were adamant Elsa II and the Brightman's was going to make the 2015 crossing only one year away, we were not going to let them down.
Elsa II required a lot of work, there was not a lot left of this once carefully cared for little ship and what was left was in a dire condition.
Works started immediately, she was re-strengthen, re-planked, re-engineered, re-painted, re-varnished, new cabin inside and out and eventually in early 2015 a few months before Dunkirk we launched for her working trials.
The day she slipped back into the water was a glorious sunny winters day with a low lying sun which reflected beautifully on her new varnish and shone brightly on her gold leaf name.
2014 I PRESENT DAY
A beautiful small yet capable sea-going, motor-cruiser built on the Thames in 1929 and rebuilt on the Thames 85 years later. Elsa is a striking vessel beautifully proportioned and when you see her on the water you can't help but look at her and say 'that's a pretty boat' Thornycroft who are masters in traditionally boat design, got this one spot on. Therefore in her restoration, it was important to keep her stunningly traditional down to every detail where possible.
The interior today has a wonderful warm and spacious ambience for her compact 32ft size whilst still providing everything one would need for a night away.
It has been a privilege to work on Elsa and with the Brightman's who showed a tenacious enthusiasm for the restoration of this little ship.
In 2013 we decided to buy a Dunkirk Little Ship and we found one via an agent based in Henley. To our astonishment the agent found a boat, Elsa II, in Dennett’s Boat Yard which is literally at the end of our road. The boat was a total wreck and needed to be completely restored using as many timbers and fittings that could be saved. At this time we were unaware that Dennett’s specialised in the type of work so we consequently commissioned them to do the restoration. Steve gave us excellent advice on how the restoration should go in order to retain a lot of her original character whilst making the boat more user friendly. Heather did an amazing job on the interior design, helping us choose fabrics and details that made the inside look very stylish but not out of place. They promised they would try and finish her in time for the 2015 Dunkirk crossing.
Being just down the road we would often just turn up at the boat yard to watch the progress being made. We were always made to feel welcome and would often see pieces of our woodwork hanging up being coated in layer after layer of varnish.
Despite the yard being flooded in 2014 the boat was ready for Dunkirk, even though they were still working on her right up until the moment we departed! Elsa II looked amazing as she retained many of her original features, right down to the original portholes which were found in the yard. She drew many admiring glances in her travels and we never tired of answering the many questions we were asked about her. We can’t thank Dennett’s enough for the excellent work they did in carrying out this important historic restoration.
Sadly, we had to sell Elsa II for personal reasons however if we get the opportunity again, we will not hesitate in buying a similar boat and asking Dennett’s to carry out all the necessary work and ongoing maintenance.
Chris and Shelley