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Sepia World

Messing around in boats, 1870s style

By Clare McComb

A recently-found 1870s photo album offers a glimpse into the adventures of a wealthy young man, JCK Warneford.

Black Angel: Warneford’s elegant Edwards and Symes steam launch on the Thames. Note the daring young lady aboard, with three men!

Dover: Warneford visited several fashionable Kentish resorts in 1876 with his canoe, in addition to Dover and Ramsgate (the towns pictured here). Earlier he explored Windermere (canoe Frou Frou, 1871), Llandudno and Rhyll (canoe Coquette built by Messenger of Teddington, 1872) and Scarborough, as well as the length of the Thames.

Fashionable Henley, 2 July, 1875. Yawl Frou Frou (Salters, 1875) and ‘Pair Oar Gig’ Clytie (Salters, 1873). Elegant young women and their more casually attired companions enjoying the outing. Warneford owned both boats.

Frou-Frou and Jessie: Warneford’s new 4-ton yawl Frou Frou (1878), meets J Young’s Jessie. Note the tall mast and lugsail on Jessie. Both were boats built by Burgoyne of Kingston, famous for their Thames Raters and Queen Victoria’s barges

Frou Frou: Camping originally developed from days out on the Thames and this is very early, possibly posed, photo of a riverside picnic. Rare image of an awning over a pole. You had to be rich to afford both boat and photographer.

Possibly a Thames working boat, with two heavy masts, but not much room for cargo. Being photographed might have been a rare experience.

Ramsgate, July 1875: Warneford toured with canoe Frou-Frou, probably transported by Salters’ specialist delivery and recovery service for wealthy clients. She would have made heads turn compared to the small craft on hire to tourists on Ramsgate’s shore

Single seater sailing canoe, 1873: Warneford seems to call many of his boats Frou-Frou. Almost certainly photographed at Salters yard where many craft were stored. Her owner is as smart as his boat with its little lug sail. Canoes liek this offered freedom to set off on unplanned trips.

South Foreland: He seems interested in working boats. Both the Windermere picture, and this one taken under the white cliffs, show wealthy young men photographed with wooden working craft in unexplained poses. He’ll never push himself down the beach with that oar.

Windermere. Victorian ladies in a typical Windermere skiff watching an elegant bearded adventurer photographed against a big, heavy working boat of unspecified purpose. The gentleman poses with a large spar, his intention to see and possibly be seen

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