Lady Margaret – Dick Lang
Todays woody story features the Dick Lang built launch – Lady Margaret. And comes to us from Bruce Papworth – I’ll let Bruce tell the story (minor edits) The photos are from the Ted Clark photo album, taken by Tudor Collins
“I was a personal friend of William A Clark (Ted ). Ted had this boat built in 1938 at a cost of 13,000 Pounds, a lot of money in those days. I have written this to fill in a number of gaps in the history of the Lady Margaret named after his wife.
Like Johnny Birch I had a number of trips away on this boat with his grandfather Joe Birch and Ted and can still remember them well. Up until Ted sold the boat due to poor health at the time to Jim & Nancy Francises. Nancy France as young girl and pre marriage to Jimmy would also go away for weekend with Ted & Margaret as they had no children of their own, they enjoyed having young people aboard. Even though more than once the odd tea pot got lost over board when helping out.
Lady Margaret was loaned to Navy (NAPS # Q08) for the duration of the war and Ted joined the Navy as its Captain. Margaret his wife ran his business, Clark Potteries, which manufactured earthenware Clay pipes for sewage systems. He told me that they never refused an order to sail even though other boats did due to the weather. Not every day was a calm day over that period you just go. Based In Whangarei they would cover the area between Whangarei and Leigh out as far as Great barrier with trips often to the radar station on the Mokohinau Islands he told me.
The boat had two Fairbanks morse engines fitted when new, later being replaced by two Foden’s in the early 1960’s. She was armed with a Bren gun on pedestal on the roof of the wheel house and on the stern where two depth charges. The Bren gun was often test fired at the goats on the cliffs of miner’s head Great Barrier. Ted said he had the fuses for the depth charges set to maximum as if we rolled one off the stern we would not be far enough away if it went off.
At the end of the war the Navy returned the Lady Margaret having restored her back to her pre war state. New paint and varnish job top and bottom as its colour was a grey colour like Many of the Navy vessels of the time.
The interior of the boat has changed since the sale from Jimmy Frances – in the bow were 4 bunks, then a bulk head to a toilet and wash room (no shower ) either side and another bulk head up a couple of steps to the wheel house beneath where the twin Foden’s and to one side a Stewart Turner generator.
Lady Margaret was fitted in those days with an auto- pilot (Bendix brand), around the spokes of the helm, Ted had fitted a stainless band around the outside of wheel, this was to stop you getting thrown to the floor when the auto pilot was engaged as if a spoke grabbed you in the pocket of your pants you would end up on the floor. In those days the helm had an electric motor driving the chain to the shaft of the rudder
From the bulk head of the wheel house you went down two steps and the galley on one side where the sink and small oven sat. Across from the galley on the opposite side was a large heat absorption refrigerator then another bulk head into the main cabin and in the middle of the main cabin sat a folding island table, underneath the table were the biscuit tins. The seating either side could sleep four, moving towards the stern two cupboards one either side that contained the wet weather gear and the outboard motor for the dinghy, on the stern there where two davits .
There was no landing tuck on the stern in those day Jimmy Frances added that in his time .
Memories are made from the people you have known and the things you do together.”
Recent photos below of Lady Margaret – looking very regal
I remember those Bendix Auto Helms very well. They looked like a regular gimbal mounted steering compass but had a photo-electric sensor under the compass card. The well known Great Barrier character Bill Gibbs had one on the his cray fishing boat Marauder, which was a Vindex hull modified for him by Jim Young. He used to run the supplies and crew out to the pirate radio ship Tiri and one time me and a couple of other crew members hitched a ride back to Auckland with him. We cleared Tryphena and Bill set the course on the Bendix, then we all went below with a flagon of sherry. A couple hours later the sherry was cut and Bill emerged to check our position and reported that we were just passing through the Noises.
Once when we had Luana out in Jim’s shed he told me that Ted Clark would often go to Barrier by himself. After getting round North head he would set the Bendix for Fitzroy and go below for a bit of sleep. I guess it must have worked out.
Used to admire her from Ngapipi Rd when I was going to work. Used to call on Jim and Nancy Francis told me she was launched on the eve of being taken by the Navy so they all went away for a trip north for a last weekend’s enjoy.
Fabulous ship -had a bit of a headroom restriction in the wheelhouse with the Fodens. We always reckoned she looked like a wee destroyer when steaming along -Fodens growling and a great bone in her teeth. Heard that Marnine was designed off her…..
Wow. Now that is perfection!