Back in the early ’60’s Uffa Fox designed for Max Aitken the beautiful BLACK MARIA….a stepped hull powered by 2 Rolls Royce petrol engines.
Not long after he also designed a boat which would have provided an economic entry to the CT as it was, the boat featured in magazine articles of the time. She looked like a smaller version of BM…..amazingly an example has turned up on the Thames due in part to some detective work by Grant Harrison…owner Joel Bradly has sent this brief resume about her…
The boat is moored on the back side of Trowlock Island in Teddington on the Thames. My co-owner is the one who found the boat. She saw it in a documentary about circus folk and it was owned by a kind of strong man and his wife – a bearded lady ! The boat’s hulk was painted blue and (unbelievably) the deck was painted white. This was about eight years ago. She took an interest in the shape of Springer, tracked her down and bought it off them for £500. She had the boat renovated for around £15,000 at a boatyard in Chertsey who went bankrupt during the work meaning she had to sprint up and recover the boat before the bailiffs came in. Pretty hairy. Anyway the engine had to be changed ( I think for safety reasons ) and it now has a rather heavy ( I think ) Vetus / Peugeot 1.8 litre 4cyl Diesel engine.
We also heard a rumour that the boat had been commissioned by the designer of the Anglepoise lamp, which I don’t think is true latterly from what you say, but initially because the dates of his life don’t seem to match up with when the boat was built. Maybe it was his son (?) but it sounds like it was Uffa Fox creating something of his own volition. We also understand that the Duke of Edinburgh went on the boat and was terrified by it as it was supposedly very bow-light at speed with the original engine. According to Michael Dennett ( a wooden boat specialist on the Thames who re-painted her three years ago ) the step was too deep as it appears she was an early attempt at hydro planing. My knowledge of boats is a bit scant as you may have guessed. That time out of the water was the first I knew of the stepped hull. That’s about all I know and most of that info is second-hand and probably hearsay. Boatie types on the river have shouted out “Is that an Uffa ? ” as clearly the cross latticed design is his signature. We know that the hull is oak and the deck is made of steamed / shaped Honduran mahogany. It certainly had a very drunk carpenter waxing lyrical about it. He was on a boat called ‘Cirrhosis of the River’ which kind of days it all really.
I’d love you to come and have a look at her and tell me more and I’m amazed ( as is my co-owner ) that she is known to anyone at all. She’s certainly a one-off and a beauty. I’m not sure we have the time to bring her out to the Isle of Wight and I’m not sure if we have the ability – which is a shame. That August Bank Holiday is particularly tricky for me as I usually work on Reading Festival ( I’m a freelance cameraman and director ) so I’m not sure I can afford to lose that work. Both of us are so pleased that someone knows her and it’s crazy that a chance conversation with Grant at 4am on a Friday morning should cough up this information.
AND HERE SHE IS….
We believe she may have been built by Souters….if anyone can supply further info please contact us asap. Thanks