mystery-boat

Two years ago Jane Scott Ellingham’s cousin Judith was exploring the local area having recently moved to Hampton. She discovered the Walled Garden in Sunbury and went in for a look at the Gallery. Her jaw dropped when she saw one of the embroideries featuring the ‘Jane Scott’, the boat built by her grandfather and named after his mother Jane Scott Percival.

She rang her cousin Jane saying “Our grandfather’s boat is here come and see”. Various members of the family quickly made their way to the Walled Garden and looked with amazement at it, wondering where this image had came from and if by any chance the boat still exists. 

Their grandfather George Frederick Percival moved from Putney with his wife Irene and 7 children to a house called Belfair in Spencer Road, East Molesey in the late 1920’s and the children grew up there. George was a resourceful man and enjoyed making things so for a fun project he built the boat in the garden of the Spencer Road house and launched it nearby.

Many years of weekend fun followed. All the family were enthusiastic about water. They sailed, joined the Sea Scouts, rowed and generally messed about in boats and spent every summer holiday at Seaview on the Isle of Wight sailing their own boats that they towed down, or Seaview dinghies. Jane’s father Harold told her before he died that in his holidays as a boy he often earned extra pocket money helping the man in Bushy Park who rented out rowing boats on the pond ….come in number 4 your time is up! Long gone now, but did this actually ever happen? 

Two of the Percival boys died in childhood leaving 2 girls and 3 boys. When they grew up and WW2 broke out the 3 boys joined the Royal Navy, one daughter joined the WRAF and the younger girl June (Judith’s mother) joined the WRNS and ended up at Bletchley Park, but that’s another story. 
During the war the Thames was patrolled by a ‘Dad’s Army’ of private vessels, cabin cruisers and the like which was known as the Upper Thames Patrol. It was also fondly known as Up The Pub (UTP), so maybe they did not get much action!

There were over 1000 volunteers and George and the ‘Jane Scott’ were among them . Could it be that this gathering featured in the photo here was of the local branch? The ‘Jane Scott’ and Jane’s father were certainly among the crowd. But where was the photo taken? It was one of many photos in Jane Ellingham’s old photo albums inherited from her father, Harold George Reginald Percival.

Jane was always told she was named after the boat although possibly her great grandmother was the real reason. George and Irene died in the early 1950’s and so unfortunately have all their children now. But does the ‘Jane Scott’ live on? How good a boat builder would George Percival have been if it does!! A large family of grandchildren and great grandchildren and great great grandchildren would love to know.

Why was this particular vessel used to illustrate the UTP on the panel in the Embroidery Gallery in Sunbury? We know that the embroiderer was Jo Fuller, but she tells us she was given the image to produce as part of the millennium project. As the boat was built in Molesey, if you know anything about the ‘Jane Scott’ do get in touch: Email paul@vllagematters.co.uk