Pix:Liz Poole

An anniversary celebration for classic motor boats has been switched to the tidal river after the cancellation of this year's Thames Traditional Boat Rally.

Owners of Rampart motor yachts had arranged to celebrate the 15th anniversary of their club at the Trad Rally at Henley.

But as reported by River Thames News, the rally was cancelled because the show site at Fawley Meadows was still waterlogged after the winter floods. Now the club will hold its rally at Cadogan Pier in Chelsea instead. It is one of a number of clubs arranging events over the weekend (July 19th and 20th) when the Henley event would have been held.

The Rampart Owners' Club Liz Poole writes: [Members of] the Rampart Owner’s Club (ROC) were thrown into disarray, as they were going to celebrate their Club’s 15th anniversary in grand style at the event.

Several Rampart classic motor yachts were planning to cruise round from the Solent, to join their sisters in the Thames for the anniversary rally in July but were now left ‘all at sea’ without a venue.

However, the new owners of Cadogan Pier, on Chelsea Embankment, came to the rescue and saved the day. They are in the throes of renovating the somewhat neglected eastern end of the pier and generously offered to host the Rampart Rally before they started work on the downstream pier in earnest.

Rampart Motor Yachts were a British, small business, success story for over 50 years, built in Southampton, by 3 generations of the Desty family, between 1929 and 1982. Famously, Douglas Fairbanks Jr bought one for his actress lady friend, Gertrude Lawrence and notoriously, the great robber, Ronnie Biggs, escaped in one after breaking out of jail.

Sadly, several Ramparts built in the 30’s were commandeered by HM Government for war service and were lost at sea, as far afield as Cherbourg, Dunkirk and Norway. Horace Desty himself, skippered one of the surviving vessels, 45ft Spree, as a tug and general workboat, throughout the war, towing small Naval vessels for repair and delivering giant logs to the shipyards in Southampton.

The Destys were soon back in business after the war but ultimately, fibreglass boats cornered the market in the eighties and wooden motor cruisers were unable to compete. Fortunately, the ROC members cherish their wooden vessels and lovingly safeguard the craftsmanship of the bygone era.

Rampart motor cruisers range between 32ft and 48ft, depending on the length of the tree trunk grandfather Horace Desty had maturing in his yard. He stuck his penknife in the trunk at regular intervals and would declare when it was ready to be sliced up.

Not wishing to waste good wood for the sake of design, he used to build the boat first and draw the lines afterwards! Thus some of the Rampart 48’s are actually 50ft when measured accurately!

Link to the Rampart Owners'Club website



TTA Project Manager
Thames Training Alliance are recruiting for a part time Project Manager to help drive the aims and objectives of TTA forward.

For further details please click here
To apply please contact chris@livetts.co.uk.


Contact us Terms & Conditions About Us