by F J Carver and Son in Bridgwater, 1907, Irene is the last of the
West Country Trading Ketch's still under sail. She sailed for 50 years
as part of the fleet of British Merchant vessels through two world
wars and a Great Recession.
many years she belonged to the Bridgwater Brick and Tile Company
plying the waters of the Bristol Channel between Bridgwater
and Ireland, carrying cargoes of tiles and bricks. Later she
was used for transporting coal and clay around the coast.
was built to be beached and often unloaded her cargo into carts
to be taken by horse across the sands to small isolated communities.
She retired from
her trading service in 1960 and then changed hands a few times
before being converted to a house boat.
1965 she was found in a derelict state in the Hamble river
by her present owner, Doctor Leslie Morrish. He bought her for
£2,500.00 and began a restoration job that lasted nearly 20
years. His initial task was to motor-sail Irene around to Brentford
on the Thames, Irene's home for the next 15 years. The trip
was not without mishap; going under Hammersmith Bridge the bowsprit
stuck in the last span of the bridge, pierced the pavement,
shut the bridge in the rush hour and cut off the gas supply
to half of south London. It was a dramatic start to a new
When Irene reached Brentford
Leslie Morrish and his family lived on board using her as a house boat
and restoring her at the same time. Once she had been restored to her
former glory she was used for many commercials, film and fashion shoots.
Irene played the part of "The Flying Dutchman" in the epic film
biography of the composer Richard Wagner.
Four years ago Irene undertook
the Atlantic and made the crossing to the Caribbean where she has been
available for exclusive charter ever since.
You in My Dreams
Bridgwater is in Somerset,
on the river Parret. In 1907 a lovely ketch was launched - a merchant
vessel of 98 tons. She plied the seas with a grace and dignity until
patterns of commerce changed and her majesty declined. Faltering and
enfeebled the ship retired. A queen yet. Her reign was over, but her
magic remained. One day a young man, a dealer in dreams and delusions,
looked on her. "Let me sell you a dream young man", the ketch
incanted. "It will cost you your life, your fortune, your soul".
The dreamer looked and saw nothing of the peeled paint, the tarnished
brass: he saw only a sailing ship of vitality and beauty: and he fell
in love. He yearned to posses her; he fought many battles, he dreamed
many dreams and one day the ship was his. The dream she sold cost him
dear - but the dream was his own. He lives it still Lives it......or
dreams it? What answer can there be to that which is not a question?
Man and ship inhabit that fantasy world of reality, that real world of fantasy.
(Introduction from the book
"Good Night Irene" by Leslie Morrish)
Night Irene tells the amusing story of the owners trials and
tribulations in buying the ship, restoring her and their voyages
together. To find out more, or to order your personally signed
copy click here