- Kenya Jacaranda
- 1923 - 1939 Torbay Lass
Torbay Lass was built in Brixham in 1923 by R. Jackman & Sons for Alfred Lovis a well-known Brixham fisherman. She is of special significance as she was the last of many hundreds of Brixham sailing trawlers built from the late 19th century onwards. In view of this symbolic significance, she holds the present status of being one of some 200 vessels of all types and functions listed in the National Historic Fleet.
Her construction marks the beginning of the end of fishing under sail from Brixham and her configuration was traditional and basic. She had no engine, but did have a coal-fired steam boiler to power the hauling winch for the nets (a feature common to sailing fishing vessels from around the coasts of the UK from the early 20th century). There was no deck house, with the crew of four being accommodated in the aft sail lockers with very basic provision for sleeping and eating.
By 1938 Torbay Lass’s fishing days were over. However, records show that she had a distinguished career and was a notably good sailing vessel, being involved in 1935 in rescuing the disabled sailing collier Welcome by towing her under sail away from Pendeen Head back to Newlyn. In 1936 Torbay Lass was awarded the King George V Cup for winning the Brixham Trawler Race in that year, thereby demonstrating her capabilities and turn of speed.
Under new ownership in 1939 and having undergone a refit as a pleasure yacht which included the installation of 2 engines, it would appear that Torbay Lass served out the war years in Lowestoft as anti-seaplane cover and accommodation. In June 1940 Alfred Lovis won the Distinguished Service Cross at Dunkirk where he was skipper of Paxton. In 1944 it was recorded by Lady Genesta Hamilton (who subsequently bought her in 1945) that Torbay Lass was perfect for private use, with a large aft saloon, four big double berth cabins, two lavatories, a roomy fo’c’s’le and a deck house. Lady Hamilton renamed her Kenya Jacaranda in view of her intended new home on the East African seaboard, but it is not clear that she ever made it to the Indian Ocean.
In 1951 “KJ” as she came to be affectionately known, began her life as a sea cadet training vessel, with some 3,500 cadets experiencing life on board up to 1980, when a more formalised body – Mayflower Sail Training Society was set up. In the same year KJ was subject to a further extensive refit, since when up until 2005/6 she carried a further 5000 youngsters on sea voyages developing both sailing and social skills. She therefore has had a significant role in engaging young people in the sailing traditions of the United Kingdom for over half a century.
In October 2013, Trinity Sailing Foundation received first stage approval from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant of £900,000 to restore and preserve the vessel. Unfortunately, the project ceased as additional support could not be secured to enable the full funding for the second stage application, including the rebuild, to go ahead. The vessel remained in a poor condition at Tilbury Docks until she was forced to leave. The Maldon-based charity Heritage Marine Foundation offered her a secure mudberth while her future could be secured and she was moved under her own power to Downs Road Boatyard in Maldon, Essex where she remains. The Heritage Marine Foundation are in the process of developing another project proposal with the aim of securing support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and other bodies.
Debretts Register of Yachts, Debretts, 1982
Old Gaffer's Association Member's Handbook and Boat Archive, 1993
Ships Open Day Souvenir Programme, East Kent Maritime Trust, 2 July 1995
Classic Boat: Trawler Kenya Jacaranda stuck in port at Tilbury, November 2001
Classic Boat: Kenya Jacaranda rises again, May 2010
Daily Telegraph: Sailing charity hits cash storm, pp 20, 24 June 1996
Built by R. Jackman of Brixham as the fishing vessel TORBAY LASS
Returned to the UK and based on the Thames
Bought by the Mayflower Sail Training Society and used as a sail training ship
Major refit carried out
Awarded a Conference & Training Bursary of £401 for courses on sail and rigging maintenance
Ownership has transferred to the Heritage Marine Foundation. The vessel has been moved from Tilbury to Downs Road Boatyard in Maldon where she is laid up in a mud berth awaiting restoration and rebuild. She will be renamed Torbay Lass. Source: The Heritage Marine Foundation
Awarded Round 1 pass from Heritage Lottery Fund, providing funds with which to carry out temporary repairs to the vessel and draft the detailed application for the major grant. Source: Heritage Lotttery Fund, Sep 13
A Sustainability Award of £1500 towards the cost of a survey was made from the Strategic Development Fund of National Historic Ships UK.
The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £50,000 for restoration work
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