When the former naval officer spotted Jolly Brit languishing on the Grand Union Canal in Brentford he was determined to restore her at a time when attention was focused on the saving of the Royal Yacht Britannia for future generations to enjoy. I was fortunate to visit Britannia on her permanent mooring in Leith recently and this grand old lady did not disappoint. Henry Butt spent twenty years restoring one of her tenders and was able to enjoy the Queens diamond jubilee pageant on board in 2012 passing Her Royal Highness her very self as Henry proudly saluted Her Majesty. Unfortunately Henry was too elderly to carry on with the restoration and after this outing the boat was neglected to the point where there was talk of scrapping her. Recognising that this was not an insignificant vessel Dennetts of Chertsey were commissioned to bring the boat up to scratch and this is where the boat is now lying as a new owner is sought.
Dennetts talented team started by stripping back the mahogany hull to reveal the ribs, keel and stringers. The restoration would require replacement of many of the ribs and stringers as well as much of the mahogany hull planking. Once the hull was ready for painting and varnishing the second stage of the beautification began and the hull is now a shiny navy blue with gold signwriting and red antifouling. The engine casing is original but the engine is a modern Vetus. To commemorate one of the late Queen's memories it is written on the hull "Queen Elizabeth II used this boat to visit crocodiles 1962/3, a memory recorded in a letter written to Henry Butt by Queen Elizabeth II during his restoration.
Built in 1953 as 'The Royal Yacht Britannia's' Jolly Boat, one of a pair of 26 seat passenger boats made for one of the most famous yachts of all time.
During the long reign of HRH Elizabeth II, Britannia provided the perfect Royal residence and was a majestic symbol of the commonwealth. Her Jolly Boats used to ferry dignitaries and the Royal Family themselves to and from shore when needed.
Who will take Jolly Brit into the next decade? Now fitted with a modern Vetus diesel engine and ready for action Jolly Brit could either return to grace the excellent Britannia exhibition in Leith or serve as a charter vessel for those interested in enjoying the experience of a 'royal' outing.
For more information on the restoration look at https://www.dennettboatbuilders.co.uk/jollybritt-gallery
To view please call our office on +44 1491 578870