Launches During the 1950’s. Fairmile was successful in winning a orders for steel motor launches for overseas customers. Fairmile ran it’s own marine consulting department and employed a design group of naval architects based at the firm’s headquarters in Cobham, Surrey. The Fairmile name was already well established in government circles on account of the reputation that the firm had established during the war and its expertise in small craft design. This was undoubtedly an important factors in the company’s success in winning orders for the Berwick yard during the 1950’s. During the 1950’s Fairmile secured orders through the Crown Agents for Overseas Administrations to build different types of steel motor launches. All of the launches built at Berwick during this period were destined for Africa. The first of these were St Peter and St Clare, two 42’ fast game and fisheries launches built for Uganda in 1954 and 1955. Powered by two 75hp diesel engines both vessels had a mahogany superstructure and deck. Of hard chine construction they had 1/8 in. steel sides and a 3/16 in. bottom which made them resistant to the teredo worm which affected wooden hulled vessels in tropical climes. The next motor launch to be built at Berwick was Dastour, a striking white 52” administration launch, built for the government of Sudan. With a steel hull, aluminium superstructure and six-cylinder Gardner engine, Dastour attained a top speed of seven knots during trials on the Tweed in March 1955. Transported to Glasgow by road Dastour was then taken by sea to the Mediterranean before entering service on the River Nile. Fairmile's reputation and expertise in small craft design brought more work to the yard. By the end of the decade the yard had produced a further two motor launches for Sudan to different designs. Two cargo inspection launches were also built for for the Nigerian Produce Company along with passenger launches for Tanzania and Lake Victoria. An interesting vessel built at Berwick was Yard Number 367, the Edmund Rhoades, a 44’ hydrographic survey launch ordered by the Rhodesia and Nyassaland High Commissioners. Powered by two Gardner 6-cylinder diesel engines giving a top speed of 10 knots, the launch took its name from Commander Edmund Rhoades R.N. who undertook the first survey of Lake Nyasa (now Lake Malawi) at the turn of the twentieth century. Rhoades, however is more better known for his role in the first naval battle of World War 1. In August 1914, commanding the steamship H.M.S. Gwendolen, Rhoades surprised and disabled the German vessel Hermann Von Wissmann. Both vessels had had been employed on anti-slavery duties before the outbreak of hostilities. The planning and logistics of building and transporting the Edmund Rhoades to the third largest lake in Africa was recalled by Lt. Cdr. R.T. Bailey, a member of a team from the Hydrographic Department of the British Admiralty that was put together at the request of the then Federal Government of Rhodesia and Nyasaland to undertake the survey of Lake Nyasa between 1955 and 1959. …Even before we reached the lake, or Africa, the need for a survey launch was realized. Using the hull design of a launch already being built for service on the lake, the lay-out of a survey launch was drawn up, and the building put in hand at the Berwick yard of the Fairmile Construction Co. Ltd. The hull dimensions had been very carefully planned to give clearance under the bridges on its journey by rail from Beira to the lake, and could not exceed 46 feet in length and 11ft 3 in beam, with the moulded depth whittled down to something less than the normal for such a vessel. The superstructure was shipped separately. It was a great day in March 1957 when the Edmund Rhoades, named after our predecessor, reached the railhead at Chipoka and was lowered successfully into the lake by an an ancient break-down crane strained to its creaking limit. Every movable piece had to be stripped out of the launch to reduce her weight to less than the safe working load of 20 tons. 1 In 2006 Edmund Rhoades was used as a tourist vessel before being gifted to the local municipality when it was intended that the vessel should be repurposed as a floating clinic. In 2014 the vessel was pictured at Nkhata Bay in a dilapidated state suggesting that this project had not been taken forward. 1 R.T. Bailey. Hydrographic Survey of Lake Nyasa (1955 to 1959), International Hydrographic Review, Vol. XXXVII, No. 1, (1960), p.45.
In 2014,  the Edmund Rhoades was photographed in poor condition at anchor in Nkhata Bay, Lake Malawi. Photo: © Kate and Rufus Brand St Peter, one of two game and fisheries launches built for Uganda, creates a bow wave during trials on the Tweed in 1954. Photo:© Ward- Philipson
Two 46’ launches were built for service on Lake Nyasa in 1956.  The first of these two vessels was pictured in the Tweed Dock (top), and also being towed up Marygate with wheelhouse dismantled when leaving Berwick. The Waterloo Hotel seen in the picture was demolished in the 1960's. A second launch, Edmund Rhoades, was built to a similar design to allow for a hydrographic survey of the lake to be undertaken (see details below). Photos: © Berwick Advertiser. Left:- A 45 foot passenger launch, powered by two 30 h.p. diesel engines, built for Lake Victoria. Photo: 1960's Fairmile brochure.  Centre: A pair of cargo examination launches built for Nigeria in 1956 photographed on the Tweed. Photo : © Ward Philipson Left: Shat (meaning 'beach, river or sea bank, or shore' in Arabic), a small 36 foot steel launch  also built in 1956 Photo : © Ward Philipson TOP

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