Dover Maritime Restoration and Richard Mahony

Tidal Basin

Tidal Basin

Richard Mahony operates sea and land tours promoting local tourism through his company, Dover White Cliff Tours and the Dover Town Council has allowed Richard to use the Town Crest. Richard’s 1935, 47-foot, carvel built pitch pine on oak passenger vessel, Southern Queen, is moored at the North East Quay, Dover Marina in the Tidal Basin – near the Clock Tower. Richard also runs coach tours around the district.

Besides being involved in tourism, Richard spends his time restoring Dover’s maritime artefacts. Those of us who are old enough to remember the café at the end of Prince of Wales Pier – destroyed in the ‘Great Storm’ of 1987 – will remember Roseau. She was the ship-figurehead that hung outside the entrance. The name came from Roseau, the capital of Dominica, West Indies, and translates from the French as reed.  Sugar was the main crop of Dominica, which was a French possession for many years and ‘roseau de sucre’ is sugar cane.

Roseau figurehead De Bradelei Wharf

Roseau figurehead De Bradelei Wharf

The figurehead was believed to have come from the 371 gross tonnage, wooden barque, Roseau built at Jersey in 1857 by F.C.Clarke for Scrutton and Co of London. The ship was principally engaged in trade between England and the West Indies, and was finally broken up in England in 1897.

After the loss of the café, the figurehead was put into storage until Richard rescued her in 1998. By that time, she was in a very poor state and had to be treated for rot before repairing then painted. She did adorn Cruise Terminal One (the old Marine Station) up until a few years ago but was returned to the quay where Richard moors Southern Queen as rot had set in.  After treatment she was given a new home in the De Bradelei Wharf Shopping Outlet on Cambridge Road, where she can be seen.

Along with Roseau there were, and still are, a number of other maritime articles in various stages of disrepair and Dover Harbour Board once commissioned Richard to restore some of these. These days his maritime restoration is completely self-financing and to raise money Richard set up the Dover Maritime Restoration Fund. This relies heavily on the 2p, 5p and 10p coins in the collection boxes attached to artefacts such as the cases of two model ships in the De Bradelei Wharf Shopping Outlet,  HMS Victory and HMS Ramerlies.

Harbour Bell, De Braderlei Wharf, made by Carrs of Smethwick restored by Richard Mahony

Harbour Bell, De Braderlei Wharf, made by Carrs of Smethwick restored by Richard Mahony

The model ships were made by Bob Heckel, while working on a farm on Lord Braybourn Estate Nr Ashford. It took him a year to build Victory and two to build Ramerlies, making every part himself. Afterwards he stored them in a barn on the estate until Richard persuaded him to exhibit them. Since then Bob has restored many smaller model ships that people have brought to Richard for repair.

Cannon over looking Wellington Dock, De Bradelei Wharf Car Park. Restored by Richard Mahony

Cannon over looking Wellington Dock, De Bradelei Wharf Car Park. Restored by Richard Mahony

Also in the De Bradelei Wharf Shopping Outlet is the Dover Harbour Bell, which for years was used as a navigation aid to tell ships that they were approaching the harbour when visibility was poor. Cast in Smethwick Foundry near Birmingham in 1895, the dint below the writing is said to come from enemy aircraft fire in World War II (1939-1945), around the time of the Battle of Britain. The hard wood stand was built by Richard.

In De Bradelei Wharf car park there is a gun, found in Wellington Dock, and was probably used in the Napoleonic Wars (1793-1815). Again, it was rescued and restored by Richard, as were the anchors, which were found during dredging of the harbour.

Published:

  • Dover Mercury: 09 December 2010

Connections:

  • Richard Mahony can be contacted at: info@doverwhiteclifftours.com
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About Lorraine

I am a local historian, whose love of Dover has lead to decades of research into some of the lesser known tales that this famous and beautiful town has to tell.
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