“I have  been around boats since the age of 12,  when I joined Maidenhead Sea Cadets, then I started working for Michael & Carol Farmiloe at Andrews Brothers in Maidenhead weekends and school holidays. ,  Where I worked with veteran boat builders such as Peter Watts,  Bob Budge and of Course Fred Andrews.  I later worked for Alan Thompson at Bray Boats.

Tim O’Keefe – Boat builder at Wraysbury Boathouse

On leaving school I attended Falmouth Technical College gaining City & Guilds in yacht and boatbuilding and design part 1 before starting my apprenticeship At John Turks boatyard in Cookham under the guidance of Mick Free,  continuing to studying on day release at Brooklands College and then back to Falmouth,  gaining distinctions at City & Guilds parts 2 and 3 in Yacht & Boatbuilding and design,  along with the Shipbuilding Industry Training Boards Certificate of Craftsmanship. During this time I made lifelong friendships with Tony Forster ( many of you will know him from the EA patrol launches)  Dominic Smulders, now Proprietor of Bray Marine Sales,  Paul Braxton now at Walton Marine Sales.   Guy wootten,  Bill Lampard now of MEC Marine. 

Whilst working at Turks I purchased my first Greyhound Launch,  Blue Ripple which is a pre war 25’.  I under took quite a lot of restoration work on her,  and took her up to the 3rd Traditional Boat Rally in 1980,  where we won The Andrews Trophy. I later bought a post war 25’ Greyhound Sweet Kate from Michael Farmiloe.

There is quite a difference between the two boats, the pre war boat is a little finer.

As  I was doing the restoration work on Blue Ripple I took a basic set of measurements off of her,  at that point is more for curiosity and reference,  later I used the drafting room at Falmouth technical College to draw up a full set of lines, layout and construction plans based on those measurements,  and developed them up to give me the basic lines for a thirty footer (this was in the days before CAD )

Having finished my apprenticeship I worked for Len & Alan Stacey at Bridge boats in Caversham for a year restoring some of their older Caribbean Cruisers before finally going self employed in 1981, 

During my time at Turks I became friends with Hugh Wilson who was at that time owner of Lady Petite 11 and Ben & Yvonne Cannell owners of Dandini both twenty foot Greyhounds with unique cuddies.    Their mutual friend Kit Cuthbert was looking to buy a Launch and had fallen in love with these two twenty footers but as there were only a handful of these built there were none on the market so Hugh persuaded her to let me build her one.

Kit decided she liked the forward cuddy on Petite Lady,  but wanted it removable, I never really liked he forward cuddy,  I find them very claustrophobic,  and as for lifting it off well its fine if have a couple sturdy young men to do the lifting for you.  She also specified polished brass fittings rather than nice chrome ones. Kit became a founder member of the TVBC and a staunch supporter of the Traditional Boat Rally and donated a trophy to the Rally. 

I rented a small work shop in a closed down Garage in Bourne End and took nearly a year to build her.  I scaled down the drawings I had done of the 25 and checked the basic proportions against Dandini,  laid it all out full size on hard board and started building.   John Turk very kindly officiated the launching .

During this time I worked on Doutelle,  The Cannell’s Silverette Dunkirk Little ship,  another silverette in the Bourne End reach Loch Marie,  Lady Petite, Dandini and Larchwood all Andrews built launches, Acushla a Hobbs built launch. 

Having completed Ladys Slipper I worked out of Springfields  ( formally Bonds now Maidenhead Rowing Club ) for a few months,  where I laid the teak deck on the former Thames Conservancy Launch  Ellenbrook   (Now Grey Lady) for Bourne End Resident Bryan Evans who owned three ex TC patrol launches at the time.  That would have been the summer of 82. 

After that John Crevald introduced me to a slightly dodgy film producer by the name of David Grant who owned a small boatyard in Wraysbury.  Grant had originally had two other local partners in the yard who he eventually bought out,  one of those was Jim Brewster long time owner of a 25ft Greyound Miss Ena.

Grant built the brick building on the site in the mid seventies,  the Nissan hut that still stands was put up in the early thirties and is reputed to be 1st World War surplus from Heathrow air field.  They had bought out Les Cook who purchased the yard in the early fifties with his demob money,  he had developed a reputation for being a bit grumpy,  something I am aspiring too.  Before that the yard was owned by the Wilder family who bought it when the “Old Ferry House estate”  which was part of Hall Place farm ( now known as King Johns Hunting lodge) on the Remenham House estate, one of two manors of Wraysbury was split up in the twenties.

The earliest records I found show there has been a boatyard and Ferry at this site since before 1611, it is the most up stream of four ferries to cross the river to Wraysbury, it linked the St Andrews Church in Wraysbury to the St Peters Church in Old Windsor and possibly more importantly the original Windsor Palace which dates back to the 9th Century so it is almost certain the ferry was originally established as part of the palaces household and dates back to the 9th century or before.”