The campaign to save Eastbourne’s Allchorn pleasure boats is gaining momentum.
Hundreds of people have pledged their support to the initiative to get the Southern Queen and William Allchorn back on the water as a tourist attraction.
The two boats were once a familiar sight sailing along the coast off Eastbourne to Beachy Head and back but in the last couple of years and due to the economic crisis, have fallen into a state of disrepair and are now moored on the beach near the lifeboat station.
The plan is to obtain some form of charitable status so grants can be applied for and the long task of getting the boats back on the water can begin.
The boats’ owner Jason Foster together with mariners Lloyd Stebbings and Daniel Goldsmith are trying to save the boats and the campaign is gathering momentum with support from Eastbourne Borough Council, other local authorities and marine and historic organisations.
Lloyd said, “Time is starting to run out for these wonderful old ladies of the sea and Eastbourne is all set to lose yet another piece of its fantastic history and something that has been part of it for the last 65 years.
“We live in a throwaway society and are in danger in losing our values, identity and our history. Both boats were built locally. It’s so important we save these beautiful craft for future generations.”
The William Allchorn was a purpose built pleasure boat, commissioned by the Allchorn Brothers of Newhaven, in 1950 and funded by the Ministry of Defence Compensation Fund as recompense for Enchantress, which was lost during the Dunkirk evacuation.
The Southern Queen was built in a barn at Westham Village not far from Pevensey Castle and taken almost two miles by road to her launching site in Norman’s Bay.
“Nearly all of the fixtures and fittings including life rafts, some of which are handmade and are dated 1921, all the masts and rigging are still in existence, in good condition undercover and in one place near the boats but maybe not for much longer,” said Lloyd. “Time is getting short now and a year or so down the road they will become so much fire wood and yet more local history will go up in smoke and be lost for ever.”
A Facebook page has been set up and is at https://www.facebook.com/#!/williamallchorn with almost 400 people joining.