Important historical find in Chiswick Quay

Admiral's Launch from the ill-fated HMS Royal Oak turns up in a local marina

Who knows what wonderful history our lies within our homes? When Zoe Rowlands bought a ‘sad-looking’ wooden launch, little did she know that she was buying a part of Scotland’s maritime history.

When she first saw the launch last year moored in Chiswick Quay, it was filthy, leaking and filled with rubbish. Thankfully she and her husband, ironically a Royal Navy Officer, could see her potential. They spent £22,000 buying the launch then another £7,000 making it habitable and have spent six ‘wonderful’ if not somewhat cramped months living on her.

Their home’s fascinating history only came to light when they decided to sell up and move the country. Their interest was raised when the previous owner informed them that their launch came from a former battleship. When they decided to research further, the National Maritime Museum was able to give them with the whole story.

The boat turned out to be the Admiral’s Launch from HMS Royal Oak, which was torpedoed by a German U-boat and sunk off Scapa Flow in 1939 with the loss of over 830 lives. The launch is all that remains of the 29,000 ton warship and only survived because it had been sent for refurbishment. She was sold into civilian life in 1953 and so her naval history ended only to be re-discovered here in Chiswick.

January 15, 2003

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