Restoration project for boat saved from scrap

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A 105-YEAR-OLD Portsmouth-built boat that was at risk of being scrapped if a new home was not found by yesterday has now been saved.

Matt de Quincey, the owner of the Steam Pinnace, had to give the boat up because he could no longer afford to keep it moored in Chichester Marina.

Fusil arrives at Lakeside''''Picture: Paul Jacobs (132923-4)

Fusil arrives at Lakeside''''Picture: Paul Jacobs (132923-4)

Matt had lived on the boat for five years after buying it from somebody on the internet.

When retired Royal Navy engineer and Locks Heath resident Mike Waddleton got in touch with Matt about the vessel, a harbour service launch, the pair decided to find it a new home.

Yesterday, the 13.5-tonne, 51ft-long boat was transported to the car park of the 1000 Lakeside business park in Western Road, North Harbour, Portsmouth, while money is raised for her to be restored.

‘The time had come to make a decision about scrapping her or restoration,’ Matt said.

‘It’s only with Mike’s intervention that we got it here.

‘Plan A is for her to be back in steam in Portsmouth.’

The estimated cost for this is more than £2m.

Another idea is for her to be restored and held in a museum, which would cost between £1m and £1.25m.

It is believed the boat, named Fusil after the French word for rifle, was built by Thomas Crampton in 1908. It would have been used for towing ammunition between the docks and vessels in Portsmouth.

‘There is a big gap in this boat’s history,’ said Mike.

‘What we are saying is it is a high level of probability that she was used in World War One.

‘There is a possibility that she was sent to Malta, too.’

Mike and Matt are now looking for ways to raise enough money to fund the renovation of the vessel.

It is hoped the boat will stay at 1000 Lakeside for no longer than a year.

Karen Tyrrell, sales, marketing and client liaison manager for 1000 Lakeside, said: ‘I was listening to a local radio station and Mike said unless we can find her a place to live for up to a year we are going to have to send her for scrap.

‘I phoned in and they put me in touch with Mike and we found the perfect place for her.’