Llanthony – a classic Camper and Nicholson motoryacht
A magnificent Camper and Nicholson, Dunkirk Little Ship
There is so much to say about this historic and magnificent beauty : A few notes below …..
A 1934 Camper & Nicholson Motor-Yacht and Dunkirk Little Ship
Overall Length:77ft. 5ins.
Displacement:62 tons TM
Engine: Twin 350hp Caterpillar Diesels.
Designer: Charles Nicholson.
Builder: Camper & Nicholson.
The motor-yacht ‘Llanthony’ needs little introduction as one of the distinguished Dunkirk Little Ships. However, her history is interesting and varied and includes connections with the rich and famous from the shores of England to the sunny Mediterranean and beyond to Greece and Turkey, where ‘Llanthony’ was a charter yacht until 1993.
Camper & Nicholson built ‘Llanthony’ in 1934 to a design by Charles Nicholson for an H J Wellborn of Capetown. However, he did not take delivery of the vessel. ‘Llanthony’ was purchased by Major Lionel Beaumont-Thomas MC JP (served in Royal Artillery during the World War). He was a steel magnate from Abergavenny, Monmouthshire and now a Member of Parliament. He kept her on the River Thames and lived aboard when working in Westminster, where his ‘man’ would row him across the river to attend sessions in the House.
In 1939 the Government requisitioned ‘Llanthony’. She is credited with rescuing 280 troops from Dunkirk. Her captain during the evacuation was Sub-Lieutenant Robert Timbrell RCN (later Rear Admiral), who was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. The Guards sergeant aboard was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal. The account of ‘Llanthony’ at Dunkirk was recorded in some detail.
For the remainder of the war ‘Llanthony’ continued her naval career as a coastal patrol boat and as a tender to various warships.
By 1946 the owner of ‘Llanthony’ was registered as Lady Iseult Beaumont-Thomas, the second wife of Lionel, Lord Beaumont-Thomas. He had been listed (as Lieutenant Colonel) as lost at sea in 1942, on route to Sierra Leone.
‘Llanthony’ was sold in late 1946 to Lord John Astor of Carlton House, London SW1. He kept the vessel until 1951. During that time the rich and famous were entertained aboard, including Royalty. She was then purchased by Baron Kronacher of Antwerp, chairman of Societe pour l’exportation de sucre.
In 1969 the Yvomarcos Shipping Company became registered owners until 1973. Then, for the next ten years ‘Llanthony’ was involved in the Beruit crisis ferrying passengers to Cyprus. In 1985 and re-named ‘Golden Era’ she became a charter yacht between Greece and Turkey until discovered by the current owner in Rhodes in April 1995 in a rather dilapidated condition. The original engines, twin 6 cylinder Gleniffer diesels had been replaced in 1964 by Daimler-Benz diesels.
In 2004 new 350hp Caterpillar diesel engines were installed and the hull was replated. A sympathetic restoration began to restore the vessel to the original layout as per the design drawings by Ian Nicholson. This was completed in Malta in 2005, providing accommodation for seven guests in four separate cabins with new crew quarters for five.
Welded (originally riveted) steel plate constructed hull with steel frames at 0.5m centres of about 50mm x 50 mm section, re-plated in 2004. Steel plate decks with traditional laid teak planking over on the amidships and aft decks, renewed in 2004. Originally designed with a plumb stem but later changed to a raked flared stem. Cruiser stern and raised deck section amidships. Round bilges, long keel.
The motoryacht was purchased by the current vendor in 2015 and a good deal of work was done on the South Coast including replacing the funnel and removing an old wheelhouse. She is presented on the Thames as a very original vessel with enormous scope for internal improvements and she will surely be the star at the 2020 Dunkirk return.