Friday, 16 July 2010

PRESS RELEASE 1R.I.P Rosemarie – A lifetime on the River

2009 saw the demise of a much-loved wooden houseboat on the Penryn River. From my research I have found that the Rosemarie II, as she was originally named, was built at 'Little Falmouth', some 79 years earlier in 1930, her lifetime spanning some of the most significant changes in marine vessel construction and usage. She was one of the earliest types of motorised pleasure yachts, measuring 42’ by 11’ with a 6’ draft. Built of oak and pitch pine, by craftsmen from a fast fading golden age, she was a ‘double-ender’ in design and sported two, four cylinder, Thornycroft petrol engines.
In 1930, the Little Falmouth boatyard was under the management of R.S.Burts & Son ltd, who are most famous for their pioneering ‘Falmouth quay punt type yacht’, a smaller wooden boat established around 1870 that worked ‘tending’- ferrying stores, to and fro, from the big square-riggers that regularly used the port of Falmouth in those days. R.S Burt & son ltd. were acting as the sale agents for Thornycroft’s in Cornwall, helping to bring marine engines into main-stream and popular use.
Wooden motor boats like the Rosemarie, would only have been built for a short period of around 10-15yrs, from the 1930’s up to the start of the war, and they would very quickly have been superseded in the post war years, by rapid advances in the development of cheaper, quicker and lighter fibreglass hulls. Rosemarie and her kind, where the beginning of the true pleasure boats and would have been an expensive luxury to commission. Many of her contemporaries where built by ‘Thornycroft’s, at Platt’s yard, Hampton-on-Thames, and as such they are sometimes referred to as ‘Thornycroft Cruisers’. Several of these were later to become Dunkirk Little ships and the Rosemarie too, was acquisitioned in 1940 and I presently, await a reply from the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships, about her war time activities.
My personal interest in the Rosemarie derives from a magical year spent living on-board as a child in the early 1970’s. I have collected almost 40yrs of her ‘houseboat’ history back to 1970, and I also have her early history up to 1948, but I have a gap of twenty years, for her ‘working life’, before she became permanently beached on the Penryn river flats. There are rumours locally that she was at one time working as a ferry in St Mawes and also in the Helford. I’m very to keen to hear from anyone who remembers the Rosemarie, or who may have photographs of her, or her owners, which they wouldn’t mind me using in a film that I’m making about her fascinating life. She like many other important aspects of Cornish heritage was perhaps over-looked or undervalued in her own time, but I intend to keep her memory afloat.
Interviews with 40 years worth of Rosemaries’ houseboat inhabitants are currently screening as monthly episodes at and a feature length documentary DVD about the life of the Rosemarie is due to be completed in 2011.