November 30, 2013 by Whispering Smith
Whispering Smith Column published in the Littlehampton Gazette November 21st 2013.
THE VERY PHOTOGENIC red and black funnel topped lady, Wendy Anne 2, currently moored on a muddy cutting of the River Arun was built in 1939 in Yarwood Cheshire, launched and given the uninspiring name C129 by the Admiralty whom she served until the early fifties. Her initial role in life was towing ammunition barges but when retired from admiralty work, she was employed as a harbour tug in Poole until her final retirement and dark date with the breaker’s yard. Then, in 2005 Seb Pattenden and his partner Becky Hewlett bought her, he claims in a moment of madness. The old tug was a wreck and the couple were just one step ahead of that breaker. Only when money had changed hands and she was taken out of the water did it become clear just what a terrible state she was actually in with her rusted and crumbling hull, the steel plates of which were one by one painstakingly and, at a high cost, replaced. Wendy has the appearance of a steam tug with her red funnel but was in actual fact diesel driven, and the Lister diesel engine was removed and, sadly but realistically, it is likely she will never again move under her own ‘steam’. Her rotting deck timbers were slowly torn out and rebuilt by Seb with salvaged hardwood as was much of the wheelhouse. She was eventually returned engineless to her natural environment, towed into Littlehampton harbour and moored at her present berth. After eight years of hard work, here and all over the country to raise money for restoration, the couple are maybe now just about beginning to see a not too distant end to the project although they know her future maintenance will be endless and costly. The restoration of the lady Seb sometimes speaks so fondly of, as if she can hear and her groans as the shifting tide lifts her keel from the clinging mud, are a fanciful response. At other times however and in moments of desperation, he recognises her as the money guzzling old lady she can be. Whatever the mood, work on the Wendy Ann 2 will eventually be completed. She is on the National Historical Vessels Registry and a fabulous and ongoing attraction to visitors and local river walkers alike. Her future? Who knows, the couple love the town and the harbour when here and, for now at least, she is on a safe berth and in sure and loving hands. Wendy Anne 2 is an important part of maritime history, one of the last of her kind and now a solid part of Littlehampton’s river scene.
THE AFRICAN QUEEN, Bogart and Hepburn managed to find a paddle and make their way out of the swamps but I feel we are being left right up the creek without our cinema. Adrift now for 296 days and counting… Word has it, that we should be seeing a return of the cinema in the new year but I will only believe that when I am sitting in the back row with a Kiaora, a melting choc ice and watching a good movie….