- 1906 - 1945 VERITY
- 1945 - 1979 LIMPLEY STOKE
- 1983 VERITY
Dame Nellie Melba commissioned a new gentleman's motor boat to be called VERITY from James Taylor, a Chertsey Boat builder, to be driven by a petrol engine from the leading marine engineers of the age, Renault. Her rare Beaver stern was designed to give greater waterline length and thus a higher speed for a lesser wash, solid stability, and an easy turning ability.
VERITY is built of mahogany on oak frames, and with a teak superstructure. She has teak and mahogany decks, and a good interior décor. VERITY has large and comfortable forward bow seating, a cosy after cockpit and her dining saloon is large enough to dine up to 10 people with a separate toilet and galley.
VERITY was one of the earliest petrol motor driven cruisers on the Thames, since earlier launches had been driven by steam. There were at the time less than 200 motor boats in existence, and VERITY was a state of the art vessel. Dame Nellie Melba, then a very rich and famous international opera star living in Coombe Lane West, Kingston Upon Thames, was a close friend of Edward VII the King of England and commissioned VERITY as a gift for her benefactor, who regularly sponsored her appearances and attended her performances. The King was an enthusiast for the new technology of the internal combustion engine, and was a keen motorist after he left the river, with similarities to Mr Toad in the Wind in the Willows. His Royal Highness was introduced to the boat at a soiree held by Dame Melba at her house at the Marlow lawns. Although the King is reported to have liked the boat and said that it pleased him, he stated that he felt unable to accept the gift when he found that VERITY had a French propulsion unit.
VERITY remained in commission until the outbreak of war in 1914 when she was stored in the rafters of Meakes of Marlow. In 1922 VERITY was purchased by Neville Chamberlain, then Post Master General, a government minister, and later from 1937 to 1940 Prime Minister. At some stage, probably during his ownership her engine was changed to a BMC dry sump petrol engine. Mr Chamberlain apparently kept her at Pangbourne. After the Second World War, VERITY was used on the Kennett and Avon canal at Newbury as a tripper boat. During this period of ownership she was renamed LIMPLEY STOKE, being the name of a village on the Kennett and Avon Canal. Her Master was then the 15 year old Keith Welham, who skippered the trips.
VERITY was discovered in 1979 by Michael Turk (owner of Turk’s Boatyard and Turks Launches) in derelict condition and sunk at Pangbourne. Mike Turk had her towed to his yard at Teddington where a photograph shows her awaiting restoration below Sunbury Lock. Apparently on passage she sank twice more. Mike’s yard then carried out some serious restoration work, re-planking the hull, renovating the cabin and replacing some frames. Photographs taken at the time show her fully stripped out in the yard with the cabin removed. After rebuilding she was launched without the cabin, which was refitted on the hull after the launch due to shortage of headroom in the boatshed where the restoration took place. Mike gave VERITY to his wife (to her surprise) as a present on the birth of his first son Richard Turk, now the Managing Director of Turk Launches at Kingston.
For the next 30 years, VERITY made frequent appearances at Henley, both at the Royal Regatta and at the Classic Boat meetings. In 2003, after her engine failed when entering a lock, Mike was persuaded to fit a new 3 litre Perkins Marine Diesel producing about 55 h.p. at 2600 rpm, which has proved rather more than sufficient for the easily driven hull. She was regularly chartered for weddings and functions, and finally appeared briefly in the 2009 film Sherlock Holmes. Although filmed for 2 weeks in the Liverpool Docks, little of the footage appeared in the final version, where she was painted black as a Police launch with a false funnel and boiler on the foredeck. In November 2009 she was laid up at Turks Yard in Chatham still in her black film going colours On the sale of Mike Turk’s film business at Chatham, VERITY was auctioned as the premier lot to her present owner, Peter Laverick. She has already attended the classic boat meetings at Henley and appeared at a number of Regattas held on the Thames. In the winter of 2010/2011, her hull and stern received a major overhaul and should be fit for the next 30 years. Further restoration is intended to be carried out by Mark Stanley, a specialist in traditional wooden launches and skiffs at Tom Jones Boatyard at Windsor.
VERITY is now a unique survivor of an early river motor boat. She shows the grace and style of a by-gone age, being stable, easily manoeuvrable and above all a comfortable boat with full standing headroom, and with the ability to give many years of pleasure to her new owners who intend to progressively restore her over a 2 to 4 year programme.
Update, November 2023: Vessel for sale
Motor boat commissioned by Dame Nellie Melba, an international opera star
Built by James Taylor & Bates, a Chertsey Boat builder
Taken out of commission and stored in rafters of Meakes of Marlow on outbreak of war
Purchased by Neville Chamberlain, then Post Master General and later Prime Minister
Used on Kennett and Avon Canal at Newbury as tripper boat after Second World War
Renamed LIMPLEY STOKE, the name of a village on the Kennett and Avon Canal
Discovered by Michael Turk of Turk’s Boatyard and Launches in derelict condition at Pangbourne
Extensive restoration work carried out including re-planking hull and renovating cabin
Renamed VERITY and made frequent appearances at Henley Royal Regatta and Classic Boat meetings
New 3 litre Perkins Marine Diesel 2003 fitted after engine failed entering a lock
Made brief appearance in the 2009 film Sherlock Holmes
Laid up at Turks Yard in Chatham, auctioned and bought by present owner
Hull and stern received major overhaul over winter 2010/2011
Took part in Queen's Diamond Jubilee Procession on Thames
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