Formerly a North Sea trawler, Victory was built in Heist aan Zee near Zeebrugge, Belgium in 1964 by Van Rijekeghem & Amys. Maintained to British Department of Trade standard until decommissioned in 1986, she is a fine example of a working sea-going boat remaining seaworthy and doubling as a houseboat. The picture below illustrates well her high bows, V- shaped hull and deep bulwarks protecting her decks, all designed to withstand the rigours of the North Sea weather.
Trawlers of this size were able to travel large distances to the fishing grounds, so the bunkers needed to carry significant amounts of fuel and water. The fuel capacity is 15,500 litres and the water tank holds 4,500 litres. Victory’s British registered tonnage is 49 gross, and her displacement tonnage is around 140 tonnes. The engine on this fully working vessel is a 5 cylinder 2 stroke 1964 Bolnes from Holland. The unique feature of this type of engine is that the scavenging air is provided by a large diameter 10” piston. Another oddity is the engine is not made of cast iron like most other small ship engines, but from fabricated and welded steel. The shaft turns a four bladed propeller of 6’ in diameter. The engine speed and gearbox control is by compressed air and steering is hydraulic via a helm pump in the wheelhouse.
Bilge keels have been added to Victory, which combined with her V-shaped hull make her well suited to a drying- out mooring. The original deckhouse and wheelhouse were replaced in 1997 and now can be seen ashore on Eel Pie Island in use as a boatyard office! A fine example of recycling! The conversion work was done at MSO Marine in Brentford (pictured above), one of a diminishing number of working boatyards on the upper tideway. The protection of such yards is vital - they too are part of the river’s history and play an essential part in repairing and maintaining the craft that form part of our Thames heritage.