A packed early 1960's scene

By Andy Gilbert

I spotted this print of an old postcard hanging in Barwell's solicitors a few days ago. I haven't seen this image before and I thank them for letting me re-photograph it to share it here. It's a packed photo and this view from the River Wall has been snapped many time over the years. From the shipping in the river, we can very safely date this to the very early 1960's, so let's go from left to right.

Discharging her cargo of aggregates at the old Coal Wharf is the suction dredger Ron Woolaway. She was one of a pair of dredgers registered in Barnstaple, Devon, her sister ship being the Stan Woolaway. Just one week into her career, on 18th June 1960, she capsized near Flat Holm in the Bristol Channel. She was towed, upside down, by Stan Woolaway and some Cardiff-based tugs, to Penarth, where she was righted and repaired. To cure the stability problems, blisters called sponsons were fitted either side of the hull. She ran from Newhaven for many years.

Tucked up by the bridge is the dredger AA Raymond, still undergoing her diesel engine conversion work. Immediately next to her is the famous 'sheerlegs' crane.

In the foreground is the motor yacht Dawn Approach. I often wonder if she ever left these moorings here at the West Quay, for I certainly never saw her move! I'm told that she was  owned by a famous surgeon from Guy's Hospital, in London, who had a house in Seaford. I'm also told that she was one of the 'little ships' of Dunkirk fame, but I can't say for sure if that's true. Does anyone know? Edit: I'm now very reliably informed that she does not appear on the register of 'little' ships from the Dunkirk evacuation, so that myth, as they say on the TV show, is busted.

Getting up steam in the background is the cross channel steamer Londres. She's obviously been on the gridiron for her winter refit and spruce-up, just look at the immaculate paintwork along the waterline at the bows - it won't stay like that for long!

Finally, moving upriver in between Londres and the collection of moored yachts is one of the RAF 'crash boats'. This is one of the larger types stationed here. Her number is obscured but it's likely to be one of the regulars, like 2757 and 2758.

Photo:A 1960's view from the River Wall

A 1960's view from the River Wall

With kind permission of Barwell's solicitors.

This page was added by Andy Gilbert on 11/07/2008.
Comments about this page

The owner of the Dawn Approach when this picture was taken was indeed a eminent retired surgeon from Guys Hospital, Dr Firth. The Dawn Approach is a traditional wooden sailing ship built in Scotland in 1921 and is a superb example from the halcyon days of sail. A gaff rigged ketch, 80 feet in length and weighs approximately 100 tonnes, when aboard you find yourself in a unique world of gently curving beams, gleaming teak and polished brass.
As of last year she was being chartered from the port of Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol, in Spain. A far cry from her days of being almost permanently moored alongside of stage 11 in Newhaven!

By John Hills
On 15/07/2008

Your photo and comments bring back many happy memories, for I served as Master and Mate for many a year onboard the good ship " Ron Woolaway ". Bringing in six cargoes a week, weather permitting. I often wonder how some of the lads that we used to socialize with are getting on just now.

By michael Simmons
On 18/12/2009

If you're already a registered user of this site, please login using the form on the left-hand side of this page.