P.S. Lorna Doone at Poole Maritime Trust
Former Club Member, the late Richard Coombs constructed a fine scale fleet of warships. However amongst various other models he built Paddle ships such as his model of P.S. Ryde for which we have photos.
One model, of P.S. Lorna Doone, was obtained from Richard Coombs estate by Club member Colin McNeill who has an interest in Paddle Ships.
Colin writes: “It was in a terrible state of disrepair with masts broken, damaged superstructure and considerable debris build up within the hull section. I restored the model and sailed it at Setley pond. However it’s sailing characteristics were alarming so I reduced it to a static model for fear of capsize and loss.”
When a house move caused Colin to dispose of the model it was kindly taken by John Lay-Flurrie who donated the model to Poole Maritime Trust. John Lay-Flurrie received the following letter from the Vice Chairman/Archivist for Poole Maritime Trust, Peter Lamb:
“I am writing to thank you for the donation, to the POOLE MARITIME TRUST, of the splendid model of the paddle steamer “LORNA DOONE”.
“This is a wonderful gesture and the model will be one of our prized possessions. I, personally, have always been a pleasure boat enthusiast and, in particular, paddle steamers. I joined, as a boy in 1960, the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society. I remain a member to this day. We are proud to say the society have successfully preserved, both, the last UK registered river paddle steamer “KINGSWEAR CASTLE” that operates along the River Dart and the last operational sea-going paddle steamer in the World, the “WAVERLEY”.
“I am not sure if you know much of the history of “LORNA DOONE”. She was built in 1891 for service on the Bristol Channel. However, in 1898 she changed hands and was purchased by Red Funnel Steamers, of Southampton. The ship was one of the two top excursion ships the company owned operating to ports and resorts along the South Coast and Isle Of Wight. She gave faithful and reliable service. The ship was called up and served in both world wars (please see, below, a copy of a report of one of her many actions). However, upon return from the rigors of World War ll she was worn out after years of hard work and limited maintenance and the company took the decision to consign her to the scrapyard along the banks of the river Itchen, in Southampton. I have attached an image showing the “LORNA” looking a little down at heel during World War ll.
“A little article covering some of the “LORNA’s” exploits during World War ll…
“On April 3 1941, the Admiralty announced that a spirited and successful action was fought between HM Paddle Mine Sweeper Lorna Doone and three Dornier 215s. The Nazis delivered machine-gun and bombing attacks from low lying clouds. Shells from the Lorna Doone’s guns were seen bursting around them. One of the Dorniers was seen to be on fire and losing height rapidly. A coastguard station in the neighbourhood of the action reported that large pieces were seen falling from another of the Dorniers. The third made good its escape in low visibility. By skilful manoeuvring the Lorna Doone avoided four large bombs dropped by the enemy and only two of the crew were wounded, while the only damage sustained by the little ship was superficial damage to the deck and deck-houses from machine-gun bullets. And that is the story of how a Victorian paddle steamer, built in 1891 for pleasure jaunts, kept her end up against the apparently overwhelming force of three modern Dornier bombers.”