Devon Belle

Excursion built 1938 by Ferris & Blank, Dartmouth

Designated ensign Designated house flag

1955

Registered


Passenger Vessel

Excursion


Excursion

Reading


Undergoing Restoration

Commercial trade


No

Yes


05/09/2003

18/07/2011



Gallery


Propulsion

Engine

Diesel


None

None


Dimensions

To be confirmed

16.00 feet (4.88 metres)


60.00 feet (18.30 metres)

3.00 feet (0.92 metres)


25.00


History

Built in 1938 by Ferris & Blank of Dartmouth, DEVON BELLE was originally named SEYMOUR CASTLE and operated as a passenger boat on the River Dart. With the advent of war she was laid up, but was then urgently recalled to service in 1940 for Operation Dynamo. She steamed from Dartmouth to Ramsgate in company with other local boats. Cyril Roper of the River Dart Steamboat Company was at the helm for the longest voyage she had ever made to evacuate the beaches of Dunkirk. DEVON BELLE , along with her consorts, were the most westerly boats called into this operation. After Dunkirk, where it is unrecorded how many soldiers’ lives she saved, DEVON BELLE continued to be enlisted by the Admiralty, operating as a harbour launch taking sailors to larger vessels in harbours around the south coast. She was eventually seconded to attend the operation to construct the Mulberry Harbours, which were built on many of the river estuaries on the south coast. She was towed over to Normandy from one of these temporary harbours to service the D-Day landings. After the war, DEVON BELLE returned to passenger service . She was purchased by Tony Soper, the well-known naturalist in 1972, and was used on the Tamar as a floating classroom. And became known as SCOMBER. She was bought by G H Ridalls of Dartmouth in 1982 and operated as an excursion boat until 1997 A Plymouth-based company became her next owners and operated her off Plymouth Hoe under the name of DEVON BELLE, which she still retains today. She was eventually bought by Thames River Cruises who are based on the River Thames at Reading. She sailed via the south coast to arrive at Reading within five days of leaving Plymouth. DEVON BELLE took part in the Dunkirk Reunion in 2000, despite being halfway through her restoration and sailed across the Channel held together with G-clamps and rope. She has now been refurbished mechanically and is still undergoing many more alterations to put her back to her original condition. She currently holds a Class 5 passenger certificate allowing her to operate on the Thames above Teddington carrying 100 passengers and down to the estuary with 50 passengers.

Previous names

  1. 1938 – 1972Seymour Castle
  2. 1972 – 1982Scomber
  3. 1982 – 1997Dartmothian

Subsequent developments

April 2012  Vessel selected for  Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant on 3 June 2012.  Source: National Historic Ships UK.

If you are the owner of the vessel and would like to provide more details or updated information please contact info@nationalhistoricships.org.uk

keel bar:

metal bar forming the keel of a metal vessel