Saturday, 16 April 2016

LIGHTSHIP CORMORANT / LADY DIXON - Chapter 144



It turns out that LV16 needs rather more TLC than a bit of caulking. Isn’t it always the way – you start on a job and it turns into several, especially when you inevitably uncover something you were not expecting.  That stern area looks quite serious to me, but then I am not a nautical man at all (Photo 1441).
    Back to my research role, I have elicited from Southend Council, who are the guardians of the archives of the Southend Standard (long defunct), three important press cuttings which pinpoint certain dates concerning Lady Dixon and her GBOK experience.
 15 Feb  -  Mr Arnold Swanson (sponsor of the project) states that broadcasts will begin on 28th Feb from an old lightship, presently at Pitsea.  The vessel is to be towed to Dagenham Dock to have a transmitter and other equipment loaded. The report also states that plans are being made to use the pier head or the berthing pier for staff going out to the vessel. (it is not clear whether these piers are in Pitsea or Dagenham, or indeed wherever). Mr Swanson stated that the response from the advertising world had been overwhelming.
22 Feb  -  A photo of Lady Dixon alongside a pier (elsewhere reported to be a 'dealer's pier').  The caption says that the vessel is at Pitsea Marshes - wherever that is/was.
1 Mar  -  The report states that LD is still stuck in the mud in spite of two tugs trying to free her 'last week' (the last week in Feb).  Another attempt was to be made on the high tides early in March but broadcasts were unlikely to start before 11 Mar.  Once free the report states that the vessel will be taken to Sheerness. The transmitter has yet to be fitted and the ship furnished.  Swanson states that the station has enough advertising to run for a year and he wished he had eight stations. If you believe that ……….
    All of which leads me to certain assumptions. The first news of Lady Dixon being in England is that report about her being in Pitsea.  One of the items has a photograph of her moored at a pier of some sort which is also shown in a similar photograph I have which the caption describes as 'a dealer's jetty' (Photo 1442).  

    I very much doubt that Thompson/Swanson would pay for LD to be towed way up the Vange Creek just to have somewhere to store her.  My theory is that the dealer who bought LD from Belfast, had his business there and that is where Thompson and Co found and bought her - only to find it difficult to move her to Dagenham/Sheerness for fitting out.
Exploring further, someone managed to get LV44 right up as far as what is now the Wat Tyler Centre (she was dumped and abandoned nearby in 1990) and there is a jetty there which I believe belongs now to the Essex Power Boat School (Photo 1443).  Therefore getting LD there was certainly possible.


So now I am looking for a boat/ship dealership there in the 1960s.
David