The eBay auction ends on Sunday 4th July at 7pm
to ask any questions, or to arrange a viewing….
Please call me, WhatsApp, or email me (Marcus Warry)
07879 812 789
Lady Doris is an 1939, RAF Seaplane Tender (Made by Vosper)
She’s currently moored in Iffley, Oxford – on the Thames
Brief introduction to Lady Doris:
This is a rare opportunity to buy and maybe live in a unique Oxford Liveaboard. Or maybe you’d like to gradually cherish and restore a little piece of history too…
Lady Doris is a 44ft wooden motor cruiser that served in WW2 as a RAF Seaplane Tender in 1939. Made in Portsmouth, who knows, maybe she went to Dunkirk? More recently, Lady Doris appeared on Channel 4’s Amazing Spaces in 2015, then in a Disney backed film called “Patrick” in 2017 (earning me over £20,000), I then carried out extensive hull repairs & improvements in 2018 at Southdock Marina in London and Lady Doris was deemed to be river worthy by a reputable boat surveyor. I’ve included more information on work done to Lady Doris over the years below.
However, it’s important to emphasise that right now she’s definitely fallen on hard times, partly because I was stuck in Uganda during COVID, and so she’s weathered quite badly, particularly on the outside, and is in need of some hard work to get her back to her former glory.
Because I need to go back to Uganda fairly soon, I’ve decided to eBay her, so she is sold promptly to a new owner who can love and take care of her particularly in these warm summer months – as I just don’t have the time to enjoy or look after the old girl any more sadly.
So, there is a bargain to be had here I reckon, if you have the vision to see beyond her current state, and if you can see how with a few deft improvements she could once again be ready to woo and wow people up and down the Thames and beyond.
I would estimate her value, after some mostly cosmetic and some practical improvements would be about £15,000 to £20,000, and so I would bear that in mind when you bid, and make sure you keep some cash back to make the necessary improvements once you’ve bought her. If she was fully restored, and made sea worthy (this was always my dream), then her value would increase substantially more in my opinion.
I’m rather gutted that I won’t be the guy to take her to this next level, but maybe, and hopefully I can pass the baton to you instead, and you can enjoy the sense of achievement from this. I’m also happy to offer help, advice or contacts where possible in the short term to get your started.
Whilst most of the pictures shared on this advert show her how she is now, why not watch this video too, so you can get a taste for how good she looked in 2016, and how good she could look again with a bit of elbow grease! It’s only 19 minutes long:
Watch her TV debut on George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces! https://vimeo.com/403813454
This is a great way to see a bit about the Boat’s history and story, what work was done to her in 2015 / 2016, and also how she looked also for the big reveal, when George Clarke came to check on my handy work! There’s also an excellent 3D diagram near the start, that shows you the layout of the boat, 4 minutes into the film.
Please message me if you have any questions at all, and to arrange a viewing too. We’re based on a beautiful mooring near Iffley Lock in Oxford, and it’s easy to park nearby, or even walk from Oxford train station / town centre / Oxford tube stop. Please finish reading all of this post first though, and I’ve made it pretty comprehensive i think…
As I’ve been away for most of the last two years in Uganda, she’s weathered quite a bit, and fallen on some hard times, hence why the price is so low, and why there’s a bargain to be had! The pictures below are all taken in the past couple of weeks.
Lady Doris has oodles of potential for the right buyer:
She could make a lovely Liveaboard, Spare room (AirBnb) or of course be used for various adventures up and down the Thames, or beyond. She’s also a little piece of floating history…
Bear in mind that rents in Oxford are as high as London pretty much, and so even for a boat, you could find she’s worth around £400 a month after some improvements. So whatever you pay now, could be recouped relatively quickly actually.
Oh and I was lucky enough to make over £20,000 in 2017 when she was used in a film for a few weeks. So you could list her on film of photo shoot location websites too – who knows?
Lady Doris was made by Vosper in 1939 as an RAF Seaplane tender, and saw active service in WW2. Vosper were world famous and highly reputable boat builders based in Portsmouth, who were credited with making the fastest boat in the world in the 30’s. Lady Doris is registered as a National Historic Ship, along with just 1,300 other ships in the UK. Meaning she can fly a special ensign flag to “show off” her place in British Maritime History and I think you can still apply for annual grants to help with maintenance costs. Maybe check with them first: https://www.nationalhistoricships.org.uk/contact-us
Some more ideas on what you could use Lady Doris for:
* I’ve happily lived on her, and also used her as a weekend retreat
* It’s a fantastic experience in Spring & Summer (you might get woken up by Duck though), and cosy in Winter times, when the woodburner is blasting out heat
* Facilities on her at the moment are basic – think of it as glorified campling. But you could really go to town on her, and make her absolutely amazing with a bit of effort (more on this later)
Fun trips & adventures
* Trips up and down the Thames, from Oxford to central London. Or beyond…
* Henley Trad Boat Festival – entered in 2018. Lovely opportunity for her to meet her contemporaries, and for you to meet other classic boat enthusiasts.
* Art studio / Art gallery – I’m an artist, and it’s lovely to work on Lady Doris!
* DIY Hobby / project – you’ll find there’s work to be done on Lady Doris. So if you are handy, and like this sort of thing, then you’ll find this rather fun
Film and location hire:
* In 2017 she was used in a film called Patrick, and made me over £20,000 pounds for a few weeks of filming ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VB5cV1VQKz4 ). I can tell you more about this when you enquire.
* Lady Doris is pretty unique – there are very few (if any) boats exactly like her left in the UK, and that’s partly what makes her so special.
* You could list Lady Doris on location websites, and potentially make an income from film or location hire for fashion shoots etc.
* Lady Doris also featured on George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces
Spare room / AirBnb income
Depending on where you moor her, she could make you a nice AirBnb income from £20 to £100 a night (if you get her properly spruced up!). Or if you are lucky enough to be able to moor her near your home, then she’s a rather fun spare room for guests.
Key points to consider before you arrange a viewing or indeed bid on her
- Whilst the pictures give a pretty good idea of her present state, I think it’s worth highlighting a few points too before you arrange a viewing or indeed bid.
- There are some leaks when it rains. Particularly in the wheelhouse, that needs a new hatch built from ply. This would be the priority to fix in the summer months i reckon, when you can rely on some dry weather.
- When I was away in Uganda, some people sadly got on her, as she wasn’t secured properly, one time they turned the bilge pumps off. A few months ago, as a result of this she tragically sank.
- After dealing with the heartbreak, I paid for her salvage, and to get her back to her present condition, and on the road to recovery, so she could try to woo her next suitor. Sadly I have to go back to Uganda soon, and this is why I need someone else to take her from here now.
- As an 82 year old wooden boat, it’s not uncommon for some water to seep into the bilges under the waterline. However, the bilge pumps automatically activate and keep the water out!
- Now Lady Doris has a 300 watts solar panel, with new solar controller, and this charges 2 brand new leisure batteries, and two bilge pumps are set up too, so she has a very robust system to keep the water out (worth about £850).
- Two brand starter batteries now set up, to activate the 24 volt starter motor, and this works and turns over the massive perkins S6M diesel engine
- However, I’ve not had the time yet to finish the engine work. So you would need to replace the oil, get new filters and reconnect the diesel tank to the engine too.
- Last time I sailed her under her own steam was through central London, from Canary Wharf to Kingston Upon Thames in 2018, and it was all fine! When I was away in Uganda, my friend moved Lady Doris to Oxford (2020), and opted to tow her, as the gearbox wasn’t working.
- Over the years I’ve spent quite a bit on the gearbox, and so in my mind, it should be fine, but I’ve not had time to check it yet. And so I’m highlighting that here too… as it might be something you need to look at.
- All boats need a boat safety certificate in order to get a river licence with the Environment Agency. Again due to an oversight, beyond my control, mine expired when I was in Uganda, and I’ve not got around to getting this done again yet. I can put you in touch with some reliable to help you – it costs about £200 is a fairly straightforward process.
- I’ve paid for insurance to cover her until about March 2022. I think this can be carried over to you when you buy her.
- She’s moored in a beautiful spot, near Iffley Lock in Oxford. About 20 minutes walk or so to Oxford town centre. She’s been here since mid 2020.
- In my opinion, you could carry on doing a lot of the cosmetic and practical improvements on her, whilst she’s in the water, and you’d want to make the most of the summer months too for exterior works.
- However, whilst she was out of the water three years ago, it would be worth getting her out again at some point soon, to check below the water line again, get her blacked up again, and to get a new survey done for example. I know a great wooden boat surveyor you can use!
- Also, you don’t have to work on her in a marina, in fact if you have land or know someone who does, then you may find a much cheaper option, meaning you could take on the work at a more leisurely pace, if that suited you. In terms of where she can go – well anywhere a lorry and crane can get too – then she can rest on concrete, or railway sleepers pretty easily.
- Like I’ve said before, when you make your top bid on eBay I think you should make sure you have a few thousand left in the bank ideally, so you can at least make a good start on the improvements she needs this summer.
Follow her story since i bought her about 8 years ago, and join 650 other Lady Doris fans on our popular facebook group, “Project Lady Doris”
This is another great way to get very familiar with her history, her story since I bought her in 2013, and the work I’ve done to her over the years too.
We’ve been on BBC Radio Oxford twice in the last few weeks too, and on various Facebook group posts in Oxford – and I’ve spoken to 100’s of friendly locals on the towpath too – so she’s fairly famous in Oxford now actually, and there’s a lot of local goodwill towards her, which is lovely to be part of!
Lady Doris appeared on Channel 4’s George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces
here are some pictures from 2016:
Please watch the full 19 mins of her TV debut on George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces! I’ve edited the bits that just include Lady Doris, and me talking about the story so far!
This is a great way to see a bit about the Boat’s history and story, what work was done to her in 2015 / 2016, and also how she looked also for the big reveal, when George Clarke came to check on our handy work! There’s also an excellent 3D diagram near the start, that shows you the layout of the boat!!
(I’m on the left, standing George Clarke during the filming of the final part of the show)
Length: 44ft (13.4m)
Width: 10ft (3m)
Draft: 4ft 6 inches (1.4m) approx (this is basically how deep the boat sits in the water)
Air Draft: 8ft 6 inches (2.6m) (this is how high she is from the waterline)
THE FOLLOWING PICTURES ARE OLD ONES.
I’m showing these pictures to show what she can look like with a bit of elbow grease and effort. But, these have all been taken in the few years…
From the stern (back of the boat), you can enter Lady Doris, and go down some steps into the…
This room has wonderful 280 degree views of the river, and can be used to sleep two people, or as a dining room. I’ve even turned it into a mini cinema a while ago.
From the bunk house you enter…
That’s boat speak for kitchen. It’s quite small, and is set up with a sink, gas hob, and fridge at the moment. More on that later.
Before you pop up some stairs, to the left there’s a access to the engine room, and to the right a small toilet, and then you go up the stairs to…
As you might imagine, this is where the wheel resides… and so where the skipper does his or her magic.
However, it’s also a lovely room when the boat is stationary, with 360 degree views, and plenty of space to sit and with pals, and chat about your tales of adventure, or whatever you fancy of course. I’ve had some lovely gatherings on Lady Doris…
Underneath the Wheelhouse, is the very large engine room. There’s a separate section all about the wonderful old engine later.
Moving towards the bow (front) from the wheelhouse, you go down some steps again, and into the…
A triangular bed into the bow, makes up a large part of this space, plenty of room for two… Other than that, there’s a lovely wood burner, and a radiator… more on this later.
There’s enough space to put a little shower room in here. Something I’ve sadly not got around to doing myself. I’ve got quite a few ideas on what you could do to Lady Doris, and I’m very happy to share them!
You have a flat roof at the stern (back) of Lady Doris over the bunkhouse, and lovely front deck too:
One of the great joys for me, of owning Lady Doris, has been that she’s been the first boat that many of my friends’ kids have ever seen, let alone been on – and of course they absolutely love it! That’s why if you’re fortunate to have your own mooring, at the bottom of your garden, then your kids would absolutely love hanging out on Lady Doris, and having little adventures
The engine is a Perkins S6M, and it’s as old as the boat, and is a piece of history itself, being one of the first ever mass produced diesel engines. Many of the military boats in WW2 moved to Diesel, because it ignites at a much higher temperature than petrol!
The Perkins engine is absolutely massive, but looks quite small in the even more massive engine room (see pictures). We think she used to have two engines, as an operational RAF Seaplane Tender, she would have been made for speed. The date the engine was made, and the age of Lady Doris fits, so it may be the original engine. Here’s a link I found that tells you a bit about the Perkins S6M – http://www.bmpt.org.uk/other_boats_history/Marine-Engine-Collection/index.htm
The engine turns over from the starter motor, and needs a few final tweaks to become operational again. She roars like a lion, but when the engine is running, it’s quite fun I find, especially when you consider that she’s more than 80 years old!
Since buying Lady Doris in 2013, I’ve had a bit of work done to the engine, gearbox, starter motor and alternator. But I think you’ll need to get someone to look at this again when you buy her, to make sure it’s all serviced and working properly (as I’ve been away for a couple of years).
When I took her from Goole to Hull in 2013, we went under the humber bridge, and the Captain helping me at the time, former RAF, reckoned we were doing about 10 knots. This is more than enough for tootling up and down the Thames, or indeed anywhere else you care to go.
The facilities on Lady Doris..
As touched on before, the facilities on Lady Doris are incredibly basic. I suggest you come expecting to see just the boat, and you might then be pleasantly surprised by a few bits and pieces. Some of the equipment I will take with me, but it’s all negotiable. I’m presenting to you here, what there is, and what you could do to make it better, so you get an idea…
Her current mooring is off grid, and so I set up a decent 300 watt solar polar panel on her roof, that charges two brand new 100 amp batteries in series, through a brand new solar controller (worth around £850). On the dashboard by the wheel, there’s an excellent dial that tells you how full the batteries are. The only items that run off these batteries are the bilge pumps and a few LED lights around the boat.
There’s a USB port to charge your phone on the dashboard too – and that can be quite handy, especially when you’re using your phone to aid navigation, with google maps for example! Or to charge your phone or bluetooth speakers etc. there an extension too, to ensure that you have USB power near the bed, so you can charge your phone at night.
The main source of heating is a lovely woodburner in the bedroom. When this is on, it pumps out heat, and warms this room, and even the wheelhouse a bit too. I say woodburner, but it’s actually a multi fuel stove, which means that it’s happy to burn coal as well as wood. The flu has sadly been dismantled, and you would need to get this working again. Also the woodburner needs to be looked at, as it may need a new bit of glass for example, as it’s cracked.
I half built a radiator system with a diesel webasto heater attached to it, that has a snazzy dial, that enables you to set when the heating comes on and goes off, like being in an actual house. However, as this is half done, I’m planning to take the webasto with me for another project – but this is negotiable once you’ve bought the boat.
Cooking & kitchen facilities
There’s a simple double gas hob in the galley,, and the gas canisters are simply outside at the back of Lady Doris. I’ve made many many sausage (and vegan!) baguettes and cups and coffee for my friends who’ve visited or who have helped me out with Lady Doris! You need to get this looked at and working again – it should be a quick and easy job for someone who knows what they are doing.
There’s a fridge that opens from the top, that in theory can run from the batteries or from Gas, but I use it as a cool box basically, and I’m not entirely sure where the connections are for it to be anything other than this – it’s still quite useful though, as a cool box,
There’s sink in the Kitchen / Galley, that simply uses cold water from the river. So it’s fine for washing things up, but that’s about it.
I know someone on Thames who’s built a 3 part filtration system, that makes the water clean enough to shower in, and a final stage involves a UV light, that even makes the Thames water drinkable. So you could do this too. And you can then store the water in a tank, and of course heat it up, to make washing dishes easier, or for a shower of course – so it’s definitely worth doing. I’ve researched this a bit, and I would recommend you put in a Morco, gas water heater, which are very safe indeed, and great for boats.
Construction & Work done on Lady Doris so far:
She’s larch on oak carvel construction.
I’ve owned her since 2013, and I’ve done a lot of work to restore her, with extensive hull work (twice), new rudder, rebuilt the gearbox, and various cosmetic makeovers.
She’s weathered quite a bit in the last couple of years, as I’ve been away in Uganda, so it may be worth getting her out the water again soon and surveyed to see what’s what. A little bit of water gets in, as has always been the case, but it’s regularly pumped out by the bilge pumps, so it’s not a huge concern, and quite typical for an old wooden boat. Some drips are getting through into the front room when it rains, however I’m in the process of resolving that. I’m happy to chat to you when you view the boat, about what I think needs to be done to bring her back to her former glory – there’s a combination of some cosmetic, quick wins, and potentially more substantial work too, that you may want to schedule in at some point in the future. She’s river worthy now, but may require a bit more beefing up, if she’s to face the high seas again, for example.
I received a grant of £750 from National Historic Ships in 2017, and you’ll be entitled to apply again, as I think you can get a new grant, once a year.
I bought Lady Doris on Ebay, and I was a total novice, learning many things along the way. This can be done, and it’s certainly an adventure! It would also be good if you’re skilled or have the same passion to learn as I did – and I’m happy to offer some help to get you started.
2014 – Hull work – (Nov 2013 to May 2014)
She came out for about 5 months, and extensive work was done to the Hull replacing about 20m of planks. She successfully went back in the water in Reading, and then we travelled to Kingston.
2014 – Engine & Gearbox work
Mentioned already above.
2015/16 – George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces
Loads of internal work, largely cosmetic to get her ready for George Clarke’s amazing spaces. You can still watch this here:
There’s also an excellent 3D diagram near the start, that shows you the layout of the boat!!
2017 – Patrick Film
She was used in a film and made many thousands fo pounds actually – if you message me, I’ll tell you how much. Who knows maybe you could list her on location websites and she’ll help you to earn her keep! Here’s the trailer, and you can See Lady Doris in this too!
Work was mostly cosmetic.
2018 – Hull, Ribs & Rudder work – (October 2017 to May 2018)
Extensive hull repairs to the stern, and new oak ribs, you can see in some of the pictures. Worked with an amazing guy, and I’m very happy to pass on their details should you need them.
Rudder was fixed too. Some work covered by a grant from National Historic Ships. https://www.nationalhistoricships.org.uk/
You can see much fo this work and the story since i bought her about 8 years ago, and join 650 other Lady Doris fans on our popular facebook group, “Project Lady Doris”
Please message me if you have any questions at all, and to arrange a viewing too. We’re based on a beautiful mooring near Iffley Lock in Oxford, and it’s easy to park nearby, or even walk from Oxford train station / town centre / Oxford tube stop.
Happy bidding and good luck, as my chapter with Lady Doris ends, hopefully her new one will start very shortly with you! I’m here to help out now, and in when you’ve bought her too, if you want it, so you don’t feel entirely on your own – like I was about 8 years ago when my wonderful adventure started.
Currently moored in Iffley, Oxford
To discuss or arrange a viewing please call, Whatsapp or email Marcus Warry on:
firstname.lastname@example.org – 07879 812 789 (WhatsApp is best if possible)