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Crossfield Rivers Class ‘Severn’: can you help?

Can anyone help to fill some of the gaps in the history of ‘Severn’? She was built in Arnside by Crossfields in 1912, a Rivers Class boat. By the late 1960s she was in North Wales. Between the 1970s and 2018 she was kept on the East Coast in Essex and Kent. In 2018 ‘Severn’ was bought by Arnside Sailing Club for £5500 with the help of a Heritage Lottery Grant in order to restore her. Follow the links at the end of this post for two videos of the restoration project.

Whilst designed for short races on the Mersey, the Rivers Class have proved themselves capable of making long voyages. Another well known Rivers Class boat, ‘Deva’ was kept on the East Coast. She crossed the North Sea several times and is now being restored on the River Orwell. With a small draft they are suitable for shallow estuaries such as the River Kent at Arnside.

OGA NW Secretary, Alasdair Simpson asks if anyone can help to fill gaps in her history, much of which has been gleaned from past issues of Gaffers Log. If you have any information, please email Alasdair:

‘Severn’ was kept in North Wales in the 1960s and early 70s. In 1972 she was advertised for sale by Alec Taylor of Borth-y-Gest, near Porthmadog in North Wales.

SEVERN 23′ River class prawner (similar ‘Deva’). Gaff sloop, built 1913, pitch pine on oak. V.G. condition. New keel bolts, 4 h.p. Stuart rebuilt. Terylene sails, plus topsail. Unused new 13 oz .cotton trysail. Lying Borth y Gest. £650.

Gaffers Log 1972/1 For Sale Notice

Following this advert, she was bought by Mr John Gaynor of Leigh Park Road, Leigh on Sea, near Southend. Leigh Park Road is a road of large Edwardian houses overlooking the bay, briefly called Rosevern. In 1976 she was advertised for sale by Mr Gaynor for £1,100. (£7000 in 2020 prices) Boat details include a cooker and toilet. She was sold to Ken Tomlinson of Hockley, north of Southend in Essex and kept at Paglesham on the Roach Estuary, south of Burnham on Crouch.

SEVERN (509) 23′ x 7′ x 3′. Rivers Class Morecambe Bay Prawner. Built Crossfield of Arnside 1912, sister to Deva. Stuart P5, 2 sets sails, 2 berths, cooker, loo, rotary bilge pump, seafarer, carvel, pine on oak. Fast boat in good condition. Survey 1974. £1,100 

Gaffers Log 1976/1 For Sale Notice

In 1977 she was spotted at Paglesham by Peter Booth of West Kirby and Perry’s Sailmaker and in 1980 featured in the ‘Longshoreman’ magazine with Ken Tomlinson as the owner. Her hull was green. In 1984 Ken Tomlinson advertised her for sale at £2000. 

SEVERN (509) Royal Mersey Rivers Class, one of 30 built on Morecambe Bay Prawner lines by Shuttlewood of Arnside in 1912. 23 ‘ x 6’6″ x 3’ +7’ bowsprit, pitch pine on oak. Gaff cutter rig with jib headed topsail. Spartan accommodation for two, Stuart Turner 8 h.p. engine. Much admired & with most interesting history. £2,000

Gaffers Log 1984/1 For Sale Aricle

Lou Perrotta, a young American lady with three children bought her for £750. (£2500 in 2020 prices), keeping her at Heybridge Basin near Maldon on the River Blackwater. Her hull colour was changed from green to white. In 1986 ‘Severn’ was recorded as being owned by Roger Parrimor in the late Jon Wainwright’s book ‘Only So Many Tides’. Roger Parrimor went on to be Chief Fire Officer of Essex. Jon Wainwright who owned ‘Deva’, another Rivers Class boat, recounts taking part in a race in 1986 where ‘Deva’ beat ‘Severn’ in a race. In a 1987 Gaffers Log article ‘Severn’ is recorded as being kept at Heybridge, near Maldon on the Blackwater Estuary. She took part in 1988 OGA East Coast Race, which started from Stone Sailing Club on the south side of the Blackwater Estuary below Maldon and a year later Jon Wainwright mentions ‘Severn’ as being in the hands of a new owner. 

In 1997 she was sailed from Walton-on-the-Naze to Otterham Creek, near Gillingham in Kent, River Medway and was discovered at Otterham Creek Boatyard by David Pearce of Leigh-on- Sea in a poor condition after several years of neglect. David bought ‘Severn’ for £1000 in 2013 and moves her to Sutton Wharf Marina at Rochford, Essex on the other side of the Thames. Over the next two years (2013-15) he restores ‘Severn’ with the help of two retired shipwrights.

If you have any information, please email Alasdair:

Watch two videos about the ‘Severn’ restoration and find out more on the Arnside Sailing Club website.

Research, words and images supplied by Alasdair Simpson