The words slipper stern launch and cabin launch are rarely to be found in the same sentence. Here they unite to describe the unique vessel which is Knight Errant. Built in 1934 as one of 7 eventual 50 foot slipper stern launches of which only two now remain, she was as far as I know the only one to have a cabin added. There is more than a passing resemblance to a smart art deco train cabin design of the nineteen thirties and tardis-like there is room for two fridges, a galley, heads with a shower, plenty of seating and two lovely cockpits, one forward and the other aft which give your guests plenty of opportunity to enjoy the passing scenery with a glass in hand. On board there is not only heating but also air conditioning as well as two decent bunks.
Apparently it was one John H Hobbs, the manager of Meakes of Marlow at that time, who inspired the design. Originally however there wasn't very much outside space and in my opinion the advantage of the new layout is the spacious aft cockpit. The boat was built of mahogany on oak with single piece sides and double diagonal construction below the waterline.
One of the more notable owners of the boat was Diana Dors, an actress, who used the boat as a weekend place for entertaining when she was filming at Bray studios adjacent to the Thames. Rumour has it that the boat towed a water skier in full black tie and dinner jacket on a large silver tray past the Houses of Parliament in the 19502. Permission was sought in 2014 to repeat the feat but the PLA refused permission (no sense of occasion clearly).
With its current owners the boat has been maintained regardless of cost by Classic Boat Restorations in Clewer near Windsor where it is available to view by appointment with HSC. The Messer brothers had the foresight to install a Nanni diesel engine under the forward deck with plenty of insulation and with the addition of an hydraulic drive which they matched to the prop, the boat is capable of upto 20 knots while advancing quietly and comfortably on any inland waterway. Internally the seating is a mix of lloyd loom seating and cushioned bench seating with cushions also in both cockpits. You could seat 10 to dine and the galley and loo with holding tank offer the option of overnighting for two or spending a full day afloat with a larger party on board. Indeed she was present for the Queen's diamond jubilee pageant on the tidal Thames in 2012.
Over the years Knight Errant has attended the Traditional Boat Rally, now Festival, carrying off a number of prizes including 'best in show'.
For more information please call Gillian at the Henley office on 01491 578870.