Wendorian is unlike the other vessels represented on this website in that she was built for pleasure rather than work. She was completed as Stephanotis in 1903 for a businessman but the main interest in her - apart from her beautiful appearance - is that she was known to generations of cadets training for a career in the Merchant Navy at the King Edward VII Nautical College - 'King Ted's'.

There is a lot of partial and contradictory information available about her on the Internet so I have tried to pull together the factual information that is available. My main sources in this respect have been John Firmin and Malcolm Salter without whom this web page would not exist and who have provided me with links to two articles of great interest that are quoted verbatim below. I have not been able to personally check all of the information on this page against primary sources but have done so where possible.

Update 26 March 2013: When I first published this page, nobody was aware of the name of the original owner of this vessel but he has since been confirmed as Charles Arkcoll of Chatham Intra. The page has been greatly extended to document my research on Mr. Arkcoll and how he came to be in a position to purchase such a craft. I have only the briefest outline of her life prior to her time at King Ted's.

Given that so many people will have done part of their training on Wendorian, I would be very pleased to hear from you if you have any more to add about the ship or your time on her - especially if you have any further photographs. My contact details can be found HERE.

Update 5 December 2013: I am grateful to Ron Burroughs for providing additional information about the transfer of ownership of the vessel after Charles Arkcoll.

Note: I was unsure about what flag to put at the top of this page as Wendorian was built as a private yacht. I have used the Red Ensign as I understand that she used this whilst in service at King Ted's; and she was after all being used to train Merchant Navy cadets for a significant part of her life.

This image of Wendorian appears in many places as copies were handed out to the cadets after their trips. Many of the on-line images are degraded but this is a fresh scan from one of the copies handed out. It was also included in the Country Life article referred to below with the following caption:

The Wendorian in the Solent. The clipper bow with gingerbread work, the white hull and yellow funnel and the auxiliary sail combine in the memory of Edwardian splendour. The modern world is represented by the radar aerial above the bridge. She is now in active commission as the training ship of the King Edward VII Nautical College.

The date is not known. The vessel is clearly under way but looks deserted, however a close-up view of the original photo reveals that she is manned by people on the bridge hidden behind a canvas screen. [1]
This an enlargement of the previous image showing the bridge and radar [1]

Basic Data

Item Value
Type Steam Yacht
Managing owner Charles Arkcoll, Chatham House, Chatham Intra Kent
Builders Hawthorns
Yard Leith
Country UK
Yard number 95
Registry London
Official number 113718
Signal letters N/K
Call sign VBNT
Classification society N/K
Gross tonnage 143
Length N/K
Overall Length 124 ft (135 ft including bowsprit)
Breadth 17 ft 2 inches
Depth N/K
Draught 8 ft 9 inches
Engines Triple expansion steam engine
Engine builders N/K
Works N/K
Country N/K
Boilers N/K
Power N/K
Propulsion Single screw
Speed 8-9 Knots

Additional Construction Information

The GRT figure quoted in the previous table was taken from the Lloyds Register of Yachts for 1903. Miramar quotes simply "120 Tons"

Career Highlights

Date Event
1903 Completed as Stephanotis for Charles Arkcoll
1913 Sold to Norman Clark-Neill of 36, St.James Street London.
1919 Sold to Duque do Tarifa
1934 Owners recorded as the Executors of the late Duque de Tarifa
1939 Owner shown as Colonel R.G. Llewelyn and name shown as Wendorian
1947 Owner shown as Mr. George E. Milligen of East Rushton Manor, Stalham, Norfolk.
1951/2 Loaned to King Edward VII Nautical College for training purposes
17 November 1961 Taken to be broken up at New Waterway near Rotterdam - breakers not known.

Note re Norman Clark-Neill: The Clarks were a Scottish family who made their fortune from the manufacture of weaving looms, Norman Clark-Neill, one of the heirs was an keen yachtsman who mainly participated in six-meter racing before and after the First World War.

Wendorian and King Edward VII Nautical College

Wendorian was known to a large number of those attending courses at King Edward VII Nautical College. The background to how a luxury steam yacht came to be in a training role is explained in the sections that follow below.

Malcolm Salter was one of many who spent time on this vessel whilst at 'King Ted's' and there is a reference to this in the Recollections section of the Benjidog website HERE.

This is a 1952 Newspaper cutting recording the delivery of Wendorian to King Edward VII Nautical College. [6]
This is an example of a King Ted's blazer badge. [23]

Early in her period with King Ted's, Wendorian had an outing to the Coronation Review of the Fleet that took place on 15 June 1953 - just two weeks after the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Mr Milligen used her to take the Commodore of the Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Sailing Club to what must have been a spectacular event at Spithead.

Wendorian leaving Lowestoft on her way to the Spithead review. [9]
Wendorian at Wapping with a group of students aboard. She does not appear to be making smoke and some kind of anchor training seems to be in progress. Date not known. [3]
Enlargement of previous photograph showing activity on the foredeck. [3]
Enlargement showing the gilded decorations on Wendorian's bow - commonly known as 'gingerbread work' from the old tradition of applying gold leaf to gingerbread by confectioners to make it attractive. [3]
A group of cadets that took Wendorian to Southend-on-sea and back in November 1958. The young man on the extreme left is SeaTheShips member John Firmin who said that the chap in white was the cook. [3]
Another photo of the group of cadets in the previous photo. [3]

Captains of Wendorian during her days at King Edward VII Nautical College

Based on the information in the articles that follow, Wendorian had the following Captains during the period she was with the college though I am not entirely sure that this is the correct sequence:

Both Chase and Miller are quoted as revisers of 'The Boatswain's Manual' - the original version of which was written by William A.McLeod.

Commander P.Clissold and Captain A.G.W. Miller are quoted as the authors of 'Basic Seamanship'.

shows Captain Griffiths on Wendorian. It was taken in 1958 at Wapping Basis at the end of the trip shown in earlier photos above. The ship in the background is Kingfisher according to my friend George Robinson - and who am I to argue? [3]
This is Kingfisher mentioned in notes for the previous photo. [8]

County Life Article on Wendorian in 1960

Country Life magazine is about the last place you would expect to find information about a steam yacht but the article that follows was published in 1960 and was written by Ernle Bradford:

I first saw the Wendorian on a cold, wet evening in autumn a few years ago. I was down in Wapping, sitting in a warm bar, looking out over the Thames and very glad to be ashore. It was almost high tide and the wind was beginning to bring up the rain. I looked out at the dark water, saw the lights of a vessel coming up stream—and put down my glass in a hurry. An Edwardian steam yacht! Immaculately kept, her gleaming white ship's side and her bright-work shining as if she had just returned from the Cowes of King Edward VII, she was just turning to come into the basin.

"There's the old Wendorian," said one of the locals, "Always on time."

Since then. I have been aboard her many times, and been on several training cruises, but at that moment I could not ask enough questions. Most of them were quickly answered, for the Wendorian is one of the sights of the river. Of 150 tons and with a triple expansion engine and auxiliary sails, she can claim to be the largest yacht of her type on the Thames. In fact, there can be few of her size and vintage left afloat anywhere, for she was built in 1903 in the great era of steam yachts. There may be one or two like her still working as passenger boats round the Greek islands, but in any case they no longer have the "yacht look." What startled me so much on first seeing her was that neat-as-a-new-pin and truly-cared-for appearance.
The main saloon on Wendorian. [2]
She was built for an Edwardian businessman, and her history is much like that of many another of her type. In her long life she has cruised the warm waters of the Mediterranean and idled in the harbours of the Riviera. She survives today, still in active commission, as the training ship for the cadets of the King Edward VII Nautical College.

When I first visited her, the thing that seemed so neatly to epitomise her career was the four-poster bed in what is now the Chief Officer's cabin. An elaborately-carved four-poster with heavy hangings, it is the bed that was once occupied by the King of Spain in the now distant and semi-legendary 'twenties. But, while most of her contemporaries have long since gone to the breakers' yard, the Wendorian still sails every week of term-time from Wapping Basin down the Thames estuary. Come hail, rain, or fog, this survivor from an era when income-tax was low still carries out a regular and valuable job, training future officers for the Merchant Navy.
The main cabin on Wendorian. It was formerly the owner's cabin and is now the Chief Officer's. The mahogany-pillared four-poster bed was once occupied by the King of Spain. [2]
Laid up during the war, she was bought shortly afterwards by Mr. G. E. Milligan, who, having had fun with her himself for several years, offered her on loan to the College. It is not every day that a nautical college can expect to find a Father Christmas who will put a large yacht in its stocking, and Captain H. F. Chase was more than happy to accept her. In return, the cadets, supervised by their officers, keep the Wendorian as immaculate and as near to her original condition as possible. Her engine room alone, with its magnificent old triple-expansion engine, gleams like a Christmas tree. I can think of few other engine rooms where even the heads of the cylinders are polished so that you can see your reflection in them.

The King Edward VII college was founded at almost the same time as the Wendorian was launched. Its founders, the British Sailors' Society, had as their object the training of cadets and apprentices for the merchant service. To-day something like 180 cadets every year pass through the college on their way to their first jobs in the shipping lines, and all of them will have spent at least a week aboard the Wendorian. Every term, one week out of 12 will have been spent putting into practice at sea what they have learned in the classroom. The great advantage of a large old steam yacht like the Wendorian is that she can carry several boats for sail and pulling-training. Old though she is, she is a power vessel, so cadets can learn in practice the elements of handling such vessels in a congested area like the Thames estuary. She also has auxiliary sails, and I remember one fine day when with a wind of about Force 4 we had the old lady gliding along under sail off Southend Pier. It was one of those days when the low cloud base was sepia-brown, rather than grey, and the whole scene might have been an old daguerreotype.

Despite her age, the Wendorian is one of the best-equipped vessels of her size afloat. Apart from the latest radar, she has echo-sounding gear, radio navigator and ship-to-shore telephone. Cadets thus learn aboard her not only the staple aspects of the seaman's craft such as boat work, sailing, and rope work. They are instructed in, and become familiar with, all the devices that modern technology has produced for the sailor. The use of the sextant, log and lead, anchor, and cable work occupy the day but in the evening radar and modern scientific navigational methods are being studied in the chart room. I remember one such evening when, in contrast to the glow of the radar scanner in the darkened chart-room and the voices of cadets calling out distances and bearings of ships in the Thames estuary, the saloon seemed like another world. Here all was polished panelling and heavy mahogany fittings, with a roaring coal fire reflected in a vast brass coal-scuttle that must have been as old as the ship.
More anchor and cable work on Wendorian. The cadets are learning some of the practical aspects of bringing a ship to anchor. [2]
As well as these weekly training voyages, the Wendorian goes on a summer cruise every year—to the West Country, or across to France, or over to Zeebrugge. Antwerp and Rotterdam. Every year, too, she acts as the control ship on cross-Channel swims. There was an occasion quite recently when cadets from the Wendorian landed some officials responsible for a swim at Cap Gris Nez at a time when fishermen manning other rowing boats said it was too rough to get ashore. Manned by cadets the old ship was present at the Spithead Review, and there can have been few, if any, other ships there that could boast that they had lived during the reigns of five monarchs and seen a Queen again on the throne.

The most striking thing about being under power in an old steam yacht of this type is the absence of noise or vibration. Even in the engine-room there is little more than a steady-sigh, a hiss and a gentle "clink clank". After the noise of most modern power yachts this quietness is a revelation. The great disadvantage of the old-fashioned steam yacht is immediately apparent, though—the immense amount of space that must be given up to engine and boiler room. The Wendorian's sails are, of course, auxiliary or steadying sails. Even so, with the engine just turning over at slow way, she is suitable. Her fine lines and clipper bow and the sweet flow of her counter make her hull more akin to a sailing vessel than a steamship. Surveyed last winter, she was again passed A.1. — a tribute to the metals, materials and workmanship of 57 years ago.
The engine room of Wendorian. The original caption reads as follows:

The top of the triple-expansion engine can be seen below the handrail and a 1903 charging-board panel is above on the bulkhead. [2]

Letter to 'Sea Breezes' from Captain A.G.W. Miller

Unfortunately I do not know exactly when this letter appeared in Sea Breezes but believe it may have been some time in 2005-2006. Similarly I don't have a copy of the previous article that Captain Miller refers to.

I write with reference to the Wendorian (ex-Stephanotis) featured in August 'Readers' Album'. She was a steel screw schooner. 143 tons, Thames. L.O.A. 124 feet, 135 feet including bowsprit, beam 17 feet 2 inches, draught 8 feet 9 inches.

Wendorian was built in 1903 in Leith for the owner of the Red Lion Brewery of Rochester. There were only four bunks in the owner's accommodation and entertaining was probably on a day basis under a complete set of awnings which covered the ship from forward to aft. The crew lived aft and when they shifted ship to the next regatta they unshipped the beautiful carved skylights on the fore-deck and battened down for sea. When safely in port the skylights were shipped, the awnings rigged and the owner's party returned to watch the racing.

At some time in the late 1920s she was bought by the Duke of Tarifa and taken to Spain where it was said that King Alphonso used her for duck shooting expeditions.

She fell out of class in the 1930s and was bought by a Colonel Llewellen (not the show jumper) and came back to the UK where the outbreak of war found her lying in the river Itchen in a mud berth. During the war the area was heavily bombed because Supermarine were building Spitfires about half a mile away.

Note: The River Itchen joins the River Test and empties into Southampton Water. The Supermarine factory on the East bank of the river at Woolston was opened in 1913 by Noel Pemberton-Billing who used the telegraphic address 'Supermarine'. The company manufactured many famous types of aircraft at this factory - none more famous than the Spitfire. Full-scale aircraft production ceased in September 1940 due to heavy bombing.

After the war, Wendorian came into the ownership of Mr G. E. Milligen of Stalham, Norfolk. Mr Milligen collected things only if they worked and he had her towed to Poole to be refitted but it was found that the main engine bed plate was cracked, presumably by a near miss. This necessitated some welding to cast iron which was specialist work. Mr Milligen used the yacht on the south coast but had some difficulties with the crew and with the supply of coal which was rationed at the time.

The year 1952 saw Wendorian once more back in class at Lloyds having been completely overhauled by Richards Iron works in Lowestoft.

During the war the Prince of Wales Sea School had been evacuated to Norfolk and Mr Milligen offered the use of the yacht to the British Sailors Society who had found a new home in Dover for the school. The Prince of Wales Sea School being unable to see a use for the vessel, the idea was put to Captain H. F. Chase, the Principal of King Edward the VII Nautical College. A committee of staff visited the ship in Lowestoft and proposed that in spite of the difficulties of coal and food rationing, she should become a sea training vessel working out of a berth in Wapping Basin by courtesy of the Port of London Authority.

The photograph reproduced in the August issue of 'Ships Monthly' was taken by Sport and General Press Agency in 1952. Ford Jenkins of Lowestoft look some interiors in 1952 and Beken of Cowes look some in 1956. 'Country Life' did an article in I960.

I am the character on the bridge shouting "Go aft and take that fender in". Chief Officer Eric Drage was in charge of the party cutting the anchor; he was trained under Captain C. B. Fry aboard the Mercury in the Hamble so of course he ate glass and cadets who did not obey smartly. After two years I went back to lecturing in the college and I think that Captain Griffiths was the third master of the ship in college days.

When it was certain that the first sail training race would take place from Torbay to Lisbon nothing would content Griffiths until he had borrowed the 60-ton ketch Berenice and entered it in the college name. I relieved him and took the ship to the regatta which preceded the race.

Sadly, it was not long after that when the surveyors decided to inspect the margin plates and diagonals under the deck. The teak planks were fastened secretly with brass screws through the steel beams and those of us who knew what electrolysis had done in sixty years knew that the job would never be done. There was a suggestion that a pine deck could be fitted on new beams but there was no finance available.

I did not see Wendorian go, but I was told that she steamed across to a scrapyard on the Continent with the man at the wheel grumbling that after all those years no one had thought of building a wheelhouse.

Extra Master

The Royal Connection

Tarifa is at the southernmost tip of Spain to the West of Gibraltar. Assuming that the basic information provided above is correct, the 'Duke of Tarifa' referred to would have been Carlos Maria Fernandez de Cordoba and Constantinople Perez de Barradas (1864-1931), second Duke of Denia and second Duke of Tarifa. He was a 'Grandee' - the highest dignity in the Spanish nobility. He is understood to have been close to King Alfonso XIII of spain (1886-1941) and it is perfectly conceivable that the King would have been on his yacht at some point.

The Tarifa Coat of Arms. [7]

King Alfonso married Queen Victoria's granddaughter Victoria Eugenie of Battenburg with whom he had seven children. As if that was not enough he also had five children outside of marriage - the last being born in 1929 - and he was a fan of 'eroticism in general and pornographic films in particular'. Maybe some of his shenanigans took place on Wendorian - but I am sure that we will never know. Alfonso fled the country in 1931 and the country entered a period of dictatorship. He remained in exile until his death in 1941. The Spanish throne was eventually restored to Alfonso's grandson Juan Carlos in 1975.

Postcard showing King Alfonso XII and his future bride at Biarritz. [5]

Wendorian's Tender

I presume that by the time Wendorian was being used at King Ted's, her original tender had either been disposed of or that it was out of action and stored somewhere as nobody who has mentioned Wendorian has referred to it.

Whilst researching this article I discovered that artefacts from the tender had been auctioned as late as 2004.

Bonham's Sale 2004

In 2004 Bonham's auction house offered items for sale related to Wendorian's tender.

The engine from Wendorian's tender that was offered for auction on 3 September 2004 with additional unspecified memorabilia and sold for £4,370. [4]

To support the sale, Bonham's catalogue included two additional photos showing Wendorian and her tender.

Wendorian with her tender - the date and location are not known. [4]
An enlargement from the previous photo showing the tender. [4]
Another photo of Wendorian with her tender - the date and location are not known. [4]

The Original Owner

After I had been getting nowhere for ages with discovering the original owner, George Robinson had an inspiration and checked out the Crew List Index Project - External Reference #60. This had information about Stephanotis.

1910 Data

Item Value
International code signal VBNT
Port and Year of Registry Rochester 1903
Length 108 Ft 8 Inches
Breadth 17 Ft 1 Inch
Depth of Hold 9 Ft 6 inches
Registered Net Tonnage 31
Registered Gross Tonnage 113
Horsepower of Engines and description of propeller 33 HP
Owner or Part Owner Charles Arkcoll, Chatham House, Chatham Intra, Kent

1940 Data

Date was the same as for 1910 apart from the following:

Item Value
Call sign GKKB
Port and Year of Registry London 1938
Owner or Part Owner Col. Robert G.Llewellyn, Tredilian Park, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire

Charles Arkcoll - Introduction

There follows an account of what I have managed to learn about Charles Arkcoll and how he was able to procure a vessel of such quality.

I must warn the reader in advance that there follows a great deal of information about Charles Arkcoll, but once started on the investigation of who he was and how he came to be able to commission a vessel like Stephanotis I got hooked. The simple answer to the question is that he was a businessman heading up a large family business and you may wish to leave it at that. However I think the tale is interesting and hope that you will take the trouble to read it.

I am glad that the owner had an unusual name or tracking him down would have been very difficult. Although I have spent a great deal of time researching this family, my findings are incomplete but I am unable to spend more time on it at present so this account may contain some inaccuracies despite reference to original documents as far as possible. Most of the information in this section has been derived from material available from genealogy websites, with additional information about brewing interests from members of the Kent History Forum - External Ref. #61 and about nautical matters from members of the SeaTheShips website - External Ref. #71.

The Arkcoll family business most likely goes back a very long way but given the time available and my location I have only been able to go back a few generations. The key people in the story and what I have discovered about each of them follows.

To avoid confusion I refer to the two people called Charles Arkcoll as Charles Arkcoll Snr. and Charles Arkcoll Jnr. Incidentally there seems to have been a long tradition of naming children after their parents; my father was named Reginald Arthur the same as my grandfather. Fortunately my mother had other ideas or I might have been called Reginald Arthur Watson III in which case I would probably have had to become a Country Music singer.

Arkcoll Family
This is a highly simplified, and incomplete diagram of the relevant generations of the family tree of Charles Arkoll Jnr. created by the website owner using Ancestry. Charles Arkcoll Jnr. is highlighted. [23]

John Arkcoll (1786-1857)

John Arcoll was born in 1786 in Herstmonceux in Sussex, baptised in the same town, expressed his desire to be buried in the family vault there in his will, and is presumably still there patiently awaiting Judgement Day. He was married to Louisa Attwood in 1822 and worked as a grocer with premises in Stone Street Maidstone. I don't know whether he started the business himself or followed an earlier generation of Arkcolls into the grocery business.

Arkcoll Family
Pigot's Directory of Kent 1824 listing of grocers in Maidstone. [17]

By the time of the 1851 census, Louisa had died and John's address is recorded as 71 Tonbridge Street Maidstone; he is described therein as a "Wholesale Grocer". Living with him are his niece Fanny Arkcoll and two servants.

Arkcoll Family
1851 census entry for John Arkcoll. [12]

It appears that the business was growing profitably but others were doing less well. In 1847, John and Charles Arkcoll seem to have taken over the business of Thomas Crispe of Cranbrook. This may well have been because the unfortunate Mr.Crispe had been unable to pay his debts including perhaps goods supplied by the Arkcolls.

Arkcoll Family
Legal notice relating to the takeover of the business of Thomas Crispe, [12]

John Arkcoll died in 1857 and I have obtained a rather blurred copy of his will from the Public Records Office. It is written in "copperplate" writing and very difficult to decipher. It seems that although he was one of a family of at least five children, his marriage was childless - at least there is no reference to any children in any public documents I have been able to access. Having no children, he left most of his estate to his brothers, nephews and nieces - many bequests being to the value of £1,000 - the equivalent of £639,000 in 2010 based on comparison of average earnings. He also made large bequests to the West Street Infirmary and Dispensary at Maidstone, and to Maidstone Hospital. I have not found a record of the total value of the estate - possibly due to a spelling error on transcribed records. Many people seem to have had problems with the name 'Arkcoll'.

Arkcoll Family
This is the first part of John Arkcoll's will that I obtained from The National Archives. [23]

In any case Charles Arkcoll Snr., the father of the man we are interested in, was left £1,000. The residue of the estate appears to have gone to his brother Isaac and Isaac's son Charles though without knowing the total value of the estate it is impossible to say what this amounted to. Isaac himself left about £7,000; when he died - no inconsiderable sum. It is quite possible that Charles Arkcoll Jnr. already had a stake in the family business and that the bequest simply added to his personal wealth.

Charles Arkcoll Snr. (1816-1879)

The first public record I have been able to find online for Charles Arkcoll Snr. is the 1841 census.

The 1841 Census

Charles Arkcoll Snr. is recorded as living at Stone Street, Maidstone and is described as being aged 25 and a grocer. Also in the household were Jane Arkcoll his wife and Fanny Arkcoll his neice - all having the occupation of Grocer - plus an assortment of what appear to be grocer's assistants and servants - quite a house full!

Arkcoll Family Arkcoll Family
Copy of the 1841 census entry for Charles Arkcoll Snr. [12]

The 1851 Census

Charles Arkcoll Snr. appears in the 1851 census living at London Road Maidstone. He is described as being aged 36 and a Wholesale Grocer. Jane is recorded as his wife and there are already four children, Sarah, John, Lucy and Jeannette, plus two servants, a nurse and an under-nurse.

Arkcoll Family
Copy of the 1851 census entry for Charles Arkcoll Snr. [12]

The business continued to flourish and by 1858 Charles Arkcoll Snr. is described in Melville's Directory as a "Wholesale grocer and Cheesemonger" with premises in Eastcheap London as well as Maidstone. Eastcheap is a main thoroughfare running from near The Monument and towards Tower Hill. The name derives from cheap the Old English word for market.

Arkcoll Family
Melville & Co's Directory of Kent 1858 entry for Maidstone grocers. [18]

The 1861 Census

The 1861 census finds Charles Arkcoll Snr. at 125 Sydenham Road Battersea visiting Thomas Turner, another Wholesale Grocer. His wife is there with him but no children. It is difficult to make out his occupation but it appears to be "Merchant/Sugar".

Arkcoll Family
Copy of the 1861 census entry for Charles Arkcoll Snr. [12]

The reference to sugar in the 1861 census - if indeed I am reading this correctly - could help explain why the Arkcoll grocery business was so successful as according to an address given by Professor Sidney Mintz of John Hopkins University in 2007:

Britain's annual per capita consumption of sugar was 4lbs in 1704, 18lbs in 1800, 90lbs in 1901 - a 22-fold increase to the point where Britons had the highest sugar intake in Europe. And while slavery had been abolished (lastly in Cuba, in 1884), cheapness was sustained by new flows of indentured labour from India, Africa and China.

Furthermore, in a talk given by Bill Thompson in 1999 to the Probus Club in Maidstone - External Reference #61 - is the following:

I was born in Maidstone on 15th February 1924. Both my parents were also born in Maidstone, with their knowledge of the town from their early days I grew up knowing a lot about what had happened in Maidstone since the turn of the century. My father had been educated at the Blue Coat School for Boys in Knightrider Street, Maidstone. At the time, his father (my grandfather) had a haulage business in Mote Road, Maidstone. In the time of no motor vehicles, goods had to be transported by horse and cart over long distances. Edam cheese from Holland was one of the commodities that was carried from London Docks to Charles Arkcoll in Stone Street, Maidstone, Arkcoll's being the number one importer of cheese from Holland at that time. I don't think Percy Akers, the Managing Director of Arkcoll’s, knew that.

Maybe the Arkcoll family should have extended their business interests to include Dentistry?

The 1871 Census

The 1871 census entry for Charles Arkcoll Snr. was hard to find as the enumerator not only had appalling handwriting but spelled the name incorrectly as Arckoll. Charles Arkcoll Snr.'s address at this time was 15 London Road Maidstone and his occupation is recorded as Wholesale Grocer employing 56 hands. His wife Jane is in the household with three daughters Fanny, Kate and Alice plus a cook and another servant. Charles junior does not appear in the household - the reason for this will be found in the section about him below.

Arkcoll Family
Copy of the 1871 census entry for Charles Arkcoll Snr. [12]

Charles Arkcoll Snr. - Death and Probate

Rich or poor, the Grim Reaper comes for us all eventually and Charles Arkcoll Snr. died on 27 December 1879 at Maidstone. His will (which contained four codicils and which was hopefully more readable than that of John Arkcoll) was proved by Thomas Arkcoll his brother of Lime Park Hurstmonceaux, and Daniel Prince Loe. The value of the estate was put at "under £180,000" but was presumably close to this amount; the estimated equivalent in 2010 is £71.8 Million based on changes in average earnings. It looks like there was a good living to be had from sugar and cheese in those days.

Arkcoll Family
National Probate Calendar entry for Charles Arkcoll Snr. [12]

If I had more time to spend on this research I would like to know more about the disposal of the estate. Presumably provision was made for his wife Jane and the surviving children John, Lucy, Jeannette, Fanny, Kate, Alice, and of course Charles Junior; Sarah had died very young in 1857. I would hazard a guess that the male descendents got the lion's share ... but could be completely wrong of course.

Charles Arkcoll Jnr. (1853-1912)

And so at last we come to the Charles Arkcoll we are really interested in - the purchaser of the yacht. Given his ancestry it is no suprise that he was well off but he deserves credit for his own achievements.

Birth and Christening

The birth of Charles Arkcoll Jnr. is recorded on the index of birth registrations as occurring between July and September 1853 at Maidstone in Kent. According to a transcription of christening records made by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons), Charles was christened on 11 April 1853 at Hastings in Sussex - his father being recorded as Charles Arkcoll and his mother as Anne Arkcoll. All other records of the family that I have seen give the mother's name as Jane so I believe this record is in error - unsurprising given the difficulty in transcribing old handwriting as I found with John Arkcoll's will. In any case, assuming the date of the christening is correct, it is likely that he was born in April 1953 or shortly before that.

Arkcoll Family
Registry Index entry which includes the birth of Charles Arkcoll Jnr. [13]

Based on Charles Junior's progress in life as described below, it is tempting to think that his father had carefully planned his future to expand the already successful grocery business into new areas.

The 1861 Census

The 1861 census finds Charles Arkcoll Jnr. at age 7 living as a member of the household of William Rason at 13 Cornfield Terrace, Eastbourne. Mr Rason's occupation is described as "Resident Agent Lewes Old Bank". The other members of the household were Anna Rason (William's daughter), Louise Burr - a governess, two servants and 5 children (including Charles) described in the census as "pupils". Anna's occupation is described as "Proprietess of Establishment for Young Gents" presumably assisted in that role by Louise Burr. It would be interesting to know exactly what form the teaching took and what subjects were included. Presumably a lot of rote learning and the "Three Rs".

In her Eastbourne memories of the Victorian period, 1845-1901, Louise, Duchess of Devonshire describes the setting up of the first bank in the town by the Lewes firm Molineux, Whitfield & Co. Banking facilities started with a local tradesman acting as an agent. This did not meet demand so Mr Rason was appointed to run a branch part-time at 1 Cornfield Terrace. Gradually this built up into a 6 days a week job and larger premises were found at Terminus Road. (By the time of the Duchess' memoires it had become a branch of Barclays Bank).

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1861 Census entries for Charles Arkcoll Jnr. [12]

The 1871 Census

At the time of the 1871 census, Charles Arkcoll Jnr. at age 17 was living as a member of the household of William H. Corke, Vicar of St Saviours, at 226 Foundry Road, Thorpe, Norwich. The household consisted of the Vicar, his wife, son, sister-in-law and two boarders. The boarders were Charles Arkcoll Jnr., recorded in the census as an Appprentice Brewer, and Robert Mills a scholar. Foundry Road must have been pretty "up-market" as the neighbours included a Silk Merchant, a Landowner and two Accountants.

So young Charles was learning the basics of his future brewing business in Norwich. Now it may be a coincidence, but St Saviours Church (and I can only find reference to there ever being one church with this dedication in Norwich) was on the corner of Magdalene Street and St Saviour's Lane Norwich. Just behind the church lay Hope Brewery - the licence holder being one John Laws - so maybe he was an apprentice there. Alternatively the Phoenix brewery was just around the corner at 94-96 Magdalen Street so that is another possibility and there were several other breweries in Norwich for good measure. I do find it surprising though that Arkcoll would be sent to Norfolk for his apprenticeship given his family connections in Kent.

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1871 Census entry showing Charles Arkcoll Jnr. at Thorpe. [12]

The 1881 Census

As stated earlier, Charles' father had died in 1879 and it seems likely that he inherited a signficant amount of money and part of the family Wholesale Grocery business at this time.

One way or another, by the time of the 1881 census we find Charles Arkcoll Jnr. living at Chatham House in the High Street at Chatham Intra - an area lying between Chatham and Rochester that, in earlier days, had had a dubious reputation. He was by then 27, his occupation was recorded as Brewer and he was head of a household which also included Louisa Smith of age 47 born at Leeds (Housekeeper), and Agnes C. Brooke of age 24 born at Gravesend Kent (Housemaid/Domestic Servant).

Arkcoll Family
1881 Census entry showing Charles Arkcoll Jnr. at Chatham Intra. [12]

Brewing and Public House Interests

Further research has revealed that Charles Arkcoll Jnr. owned, or at least partly owned, Arkcoll's Brewery of Chatham Intra. Beer was produced at the Lion Brewery and the company's bottles had a lion as a trademark. Lion Brewery was adjacent to Chatham House being just along Hulkes Lane which runs at the side of it. Both buildings still exist and there is more information about them below.

Charles Arkcoll & Co., Lion Brewery, Chatham is recorded as the owners of The Shipwrights Arms in Westcourt Street Brompton in 1880 and it seems likely that they owned The Ship public house two doors away from Chatham House and other outlets for its products. I believe that there is evidence of advertising signs being located in Gravesend and elsewhere but I have not got details of this. I suspect that Arkcoll's beer was sold over a fairly large area of Kent and maybe beyond.

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Map of Chatham Intra on which the site of Chatham House has been marked in blue and the Lion Brewery in red. [10]
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This is a bottle and stopper from the Lion Brewery which clearly show the Arkcoll name and the Lion Brewery emblem. [15]

The building to be known as Lion Brewery certainly existed before Charles Arkcoll Jnr. had completed his apprenticeship. In fact both it and Chatham House appear on a map from 1866-67. It is possible that the brewery was previously owned by James Hulkes, a brewer and banker who had been MP for Rochester from 1802-1806 and also sometime Mayor of Rochester and who had died 1821. Hulkes Lane next to Chatham House had been named after him.

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This map shows the building to become Lion Brewery on the 1866-67 map. The location of Chatham House and The Ship tavern are also clearly shown. [10]

Pigot's Directory of Kent 1824 - External Reference #63 shows four breweries in Chatham High Street. Charles Arkcoll Jnr. certainly didn't take over the Best brewery but beyond that I have discovered no further information.

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Pigot's Directory for Kent 1824 entry for Brewers in Chatham. [10]

Chatham House and the Lion Brewery in 2013

Chatham House and the Lion Brewery still exist but are in a delapidated state. Both properties and the area around them is understood to be owned by the Featherstone Family - the Featherstone business being started in 1901 by John Thomas Featherstone M.B.E. I do not know when they acquired the Arkcoll property.

Lyn L - a member of the Kent Historical Forum - External Reference #61 - contacted me to say that she had worked for the Featherstones when Chatham House was used to sell carpets - the Lion Brewery was being used to store carpet rolls. She added that she had once been taken upstairs in the Chatham House building and shown the private chapel there.

Member dingo4638 of the same forum stated in 2010:

Most of the Lion Brewery is empty and in a fairly sorry state of repair, having stood empty for the most part since Featherstone's closed in 1980. The Featherstone family still own the entire site and Chatham House (the imposing Georgian building that stands at the end of Hulkes Lane next to the Ship Inn) is supposed to be incredible inside, still with the original range and toilet.
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Front view of Chatham House photographed in 2014 [16]
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Rear view of Chatham House photographed in 2014 [16]
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Entrance to Lion Brewery as it appeared in 2014. The brewery itself is the yellow brick building behind it. [16]

Donation of a Lifeboat and Lifeboat House to Hastings

In 1881 Charles Arkcoll Jnr. provided funds to pay for a Lifeboat and Lifeboat House in Hastings in memory of his father. The gift was reported in the local newspaper - the Hastings News - see External Reference #67:

7 January 1881: The new Hastings lifeboat the Charles Arkcoll arrived on Friday 31 December, and the old boat, the Ellen Goodman, was taken to London the same day.

1881 (exact date not known): The architect of the RNLI visited Hastings and discussed with the borough how to improve the site of the new lifeboat house. It was to be built in East Parade, partly on the site of the former Custom House, the lessees of which gave up possession on 27 May 1881 (the House had since then washed away in a gale “owing to the defective character of its foundations”). The sea wall would be extended 50 feet for the new building. It was expected that work on the wall would be finished on October, and then construction of the lifeboat (house) would begin.

7 July 1882: The new lifeboat house was opened on Monday 3 July, and the new lifeboat, the Charles Arkcoll, was christened. Both had been “provided as a monument of esteem and honour to the late Mr Charles Arkcoll of Maidstone, who was born in the neighbourhood of Hastings, and who always looked upon the town with a great deal of favour.” The Corporation of Hastings granted the site of the old Custom House in East Parade, opposite the Lower Lighthouse, and Charles Arkcoll jnr paid for the new building and boat in memory of his father, of the same name. Until then, the lifeboat house was at the east end of Rock-a-Nore Road. The new “very commodious and imposing stone building” had a tower with a light in it. This was to replace the Lower Light, which it was obscuring. A procession, with the new boat pulled by six large horses, went along George Street and then along the seafront, round Warrior Square and back to East Parade. A large crowd witnessed the hand over of the building and boat at 11.30. The boat was then taken back to the slipway at the Queens Hotel, where Miss Kittie Arkcoll carried out the christening, and the vessel was launched, with the help of Sir Thomas Brassey. This was followed by a banquet in the hotel.

The 'Kittie' referred to was presumably Kate Arkcoll - the sister of Charles and who would have been about 27 years old at the time.

According to the Hastings RNLI, the Charles Arkcoll lifeboat cost £363 and served at Hastings for 20 years from 1881 to 1901.

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Old postcard showing the original Charles Arkcoll lifeboat. [22]
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Old postcards showing the original Charles Arkcoll lifeboat and the Lifeboat House. [24]

In 1881, Charles Arkcoll Jnr. extended his activities when he was appointed as a 'Commissioner for executing the Acts for granting a Land Tax and other Rates and Taxes'

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These are cuttings from London Gazette 5 July 1881 noting the appointment. [11]

The Rochester County Club

The Medway CityArk archive contains the following record of the Rochester County Club for whom it appears that Charles Arkcoll Jnr. was the principle benefactor:

Item DE85/2 appears to be the only surviving record of the County Club on whose activities it throws some light.

The club was founded in March 1882 by A.A. Arnold, Rev. W.M. Bottome, E. Woodgate and C. Arkcoll, who was the principal benefactor of the clubhouse built 1883-1884. The club initially met at 67 High Street, Rochester and served to provide the leading citizens of the area, chiefly the local magistrates, gentry, local authority officials, dockyard administrators, high ranking naval and army officers, clergy and members of the Indian and colonial services who were on furlough in the area with social and clubhouse facilities on a level with those provided in London. The club was of a non-political nature.

The new clubhouse was built by George Friend who was an early member of the club, at a total cost of £6,000. The formal opening was performed by Lord Darnley, also a member, in June 1884. The facilities included reading, dining, billiard, card and smoking rooms, balconies and a fully equipped kitchen.

Other early members included T.L. Aveling, H.M. Cobb, Apsley Kennette and several members of the Prall and Winch families.

According to local trade directory entries, the club seems to have lapsed by c.1928.

The Arkcoll Grocery Business

By 1887 the company had a warehouse in Borough that was used to store cheese before being transported to Maidstone - and presumably distributed to other businesses. The premises would have been quite close to London Bridge Station and Borough Market.

Arkcoll Family
An invoice dated July 4 1889 with the Arkcoll addresses and telephone number at the top. [15]

The Arkcoll family grocery business continued until at least 1957 as there is an entry in the BT phone book for the company at 29 Lower Stone Street Maidstone.

Mercantile Assessor to Kent County Court

In 1890 the London Gazette reported that Charles Arkcoll Jnr. had been appointed as a Mercantile Assessor to the County Court of Kent. My understanding of the role of Assessors (thanks to information provided by Rex Cooper and George Robinson) is that in certain cases related to salvage, towage or collision, a judge can be assisted by Assessors with specialist knowledge. Nautical Assessors provide advice on matters of seamanship, navigation, rule of the road and weather etc. (The blame business) and the Mercantile Assessors provide advice on commercial aspects and losses, costs and damage to property and cargoes, and other costs and losses arising from a dispute or accident (The claim business). The former are usually master mariners or senior naval officers, Elder Brothers etc., whereas the latter are appointed from the ranks of experts in commerce, insurance, shipowning and chartering business.

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Cutting from The London Gazette of 23 December 1890 noting the appointment of Charles Arkcoll Jnr. as a Mercantile Assessor to the County Court of Kent [11]

The importance of this appointment can be judged by the calibre of the other appointees:

Thomas Lake Aveling, the person on the list after Arkcoll, was the son of Thomas Aveling - one of the founding partners of Aveling and Porter which became the biggest manufacturer of steam rollers in the world. Thomas Aveling was a member of various Institutions and became Mayor of Rochester amongst many other accomplishments. His son was born in 1856 and became Managing Director of the company when his father died in 1882, was a prominent local businessman, a member of various institutions, chairman of the Medway Conservancy, on the board of the Rochester Bridge wardens etc. etc. The Kent Historical Forum - External Reference #61 - has a great deal of information about the Company. Thomas Lake Aveling like Charles Arkcoll also had a steam yacht. It was called Rosita and was built in 1901 by Ramage & Ferguson at Leith who built many high quality yachts and training ships. Aveling was a keen yachtsman linked to the Royal Victoria and the Royal Cinque Ports Clubs. Another customer who had a steam yacht built by Ramage & Ferguson was Joseph Pulitzer, the founder of the prize for achievements in journalism. His 300 ft yacht Liberty was named in 1907 and cost $1.5 Million. I think there is a reasonable chance that Arkcoll's yacht Stephanotis was also built at this yard but have not been able to confirm this.

Francis Flint Belsey (later Sir Francis), who appears after Aveling on the list, was described in an obituary in the New York Times on May 26 1914 as a prominent politician outside parliament who married Mrs. Kate Morrison Foster of New York in 1897. He was president of the worlds's first Sunday School Convention in 1889. Born in Rochester he was 87 years old when he died, was Mayor of Rochester for two terms, a member of the School Board for 27 years, a member of the Committee of the Liberal Club and published several works on Sunday school teaching.

The 1891 Census

The 1891 census records Charles Arkcoll Jnr. now aged 36 and still living at Chatham House. He is described as a "Licenced Common Brewer" and has another elderly widow as his housekeeper and a single domestic servant making up the household.

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1891 census entry with Charles Arkcoll Jnr.at Chatham Intra. [12]

In 1891 Charkes Arkcoll Jnr. warrants three entries in Kelly's Directory of Kent, Surrey & Sussex - a personal one in what is described as the "Court Section", and two in the Trades section under Brewers and Grocers - Wholesale.

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1891 Kelly's Directory entries for Charles Arkcoll Jnr. [19]

In 1900 an application was made by the Company for permission to build a landing stage or wharf for the Lion Brewery - details are held in the Medway CityArk archive; it is not known whether this went ahead.

The 1901 Census

The 1901 census entry follows the pattern of earlier ones. The street numbers have changed (the address is now 351 High Street) and the address is listed under Rochester instead of Chatham - presumably due to a boundary change. Charles Arkcoll Jnr. has yet another elderly housekeeper and a new maid making up his household.

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1901 census entry with Charles Arkcoll Jnr.at Chatham Intra. [12]

Charles Arkcoll Jnr. appears in the 1903 edition of Kelly's Directory for Kent. The Brewery Trade entry now shows two addresses - Lion Brewery in Chatham and another in Maidstone.

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1903 Kelly's Directory entries for Charles Arkcoll Jnr. It is interesting to note that in this edition the publishers had altered the organisation of private resident data to show the whole County in alphabetical order by name rather than alphabetically within town. This must have made the Directory a lot easier to use. [12]

Yachting Interests

It goes without saying that Charles Arkcoll Jnr. was a keen yacht enthusiast - he would hardly have purchased a vessel such as Stephanotis if he were not. He is listed as a subscriber to the Lloyd's Yacht Register of 1903. His yacht Stephanotis is listed but it is frustrating that the details are not included in the Google online scan of the document. In the absence of other information, I assume he named the vessel after the genus of flowering plants of that name - they are evergreen, woody-stemmed climbers from tropical woodland in Africa.

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Lloyd's Yacht Register 1903 entry for Charles Arkcoll Jnr. The membership codes mean his membership covered the Royal Cinque Ports (C.Pts.), Royal Corinthian (Cor), New Thames (N.Tms.) and Royal Thames (Tms). [12]

My friend Rex Cooper found a reference to an "Arkcoll Cup" for a race between Nore and Dover that was presumably provided by Charles Arkcoll but there is no further information about that at present.

The 1911 Census

I have searched to find a census return for Charles Arkcoll Jnr. for 1911 without success. It could be that he was out of the country at the time or that the census taker had writing so atrocious that none of the many variations on spelling that I tried produced a hit.

Death of Charles Arkcoll Jnr.

Charles Arkcoll Jnr. died on 25 May 1912 - apparently at Southampton. I have not discovered further details but he would only have been aged about 59 or 60. The value of the estate was put at £172,441; the estimated equivalent in 2010 is £56.2 Million based on changes in average earnings.

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This is the National Probate Calendar entry for Charles Arkcoll (Jnr). [14]

Unless Charles Arkcoll Jnr. married and had children after 1901, which seems unlikely, he died childless like John Arkoll before him. It would be interesting to see his will to find out how his estate was distributed.


So after all this digging, what do we actually know about Charles Arkcoll Jnr.? Well we have learned quite a lot about his background, where his money came from, that he liked yachts and that he built up the family business but that is about as far as it goes. He appears not to have married or have had children, and spent most of his life in a rather large house with a succession of elderly housekeepers and a single servant.

I would really like to know what Charles Arkcoll Jnr. looked like, whether he was a happy or miserable person, whether generous or a miser, whether boastful or modest, the sort of chap you would like to have a pint with, or someone you would try to avoid. On all of these points I am no wiser now than when I started out and probably never will be.

It is a mystery why Charles Arkcoll Jnr. remained single and childless. Was he thwarted in love or maybe lose the love of his life to an untreatable disease? Was he a misogynist? Did he have a string of mistresses and not want to be tied down? Was he celibate for religious reasons or a homosexual? I have no idea - and of course anyone who researches their own family history faces the same problem. The generations before ours mostly left very little personal information about themselves. Maybe this will change with the massive explosion in recorded information - but how much of the information we can access on the internet now will have been discarded by the time our successors take an interest in what their ancestors from the 2nd Elizabethan period were like? Will things like "Tweets" and Facebook "Likes" be retained for the future? It seems pretty unlikely to me. If they are, I feel sorry for whoever in the future tries to find the grain of wheat in a barnful of chaff...

Disposal of Wendorian

The World Ships Society Marine News magazine of December 1961 reported that Wendorian had been sold by Mr. G.E.Milligan of Stalham Norfolk to dutch breakers in the Nieuwe Waterweg (New Waterway) in Rotterdam and she arrived there on 17 November 1961.

Image Credits

  1. By courtesy of Beken & Son, Cowes
  2. By courtesy of Country Life magazine - External Ref. #59
  3. By courtesy of John Firmin
  4. By courtesy of Bonhams
  5. Postcard image appearing at various places on the internet and understood to be out of copyright
  6. From J Arthur Mee's Children's Newspaper 31 May 1952
  7. Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
  8. From The Allen Collection
  9. By courtesy of Jamie Campbell, Royal Norfolk and Suffolk Sailing Club
  10. From an image of an Ordinance Survey map of the Rochester area obtained by the site owner from an unknown source several years ago whilst researching another topic
  11. By courtesy of the London Gazette
  12. From the UK Census and other information at Ancestry.co.uk
  13. From the Register of Births
  14. From the National Probate Calendar
  15. By courtesy of John Janman
  16. Photo by the website owner Brian Watson
  17. From Pigot's Directory of Kent 1824
  18. From Melville & Co's Directory of Kent 1858
  19. From Kelly's Directory of Kent, Surrey & Sussex, 1891
  20. From Kelly's Directory of Kent, 1903
  21. By courtesy of 1066 online - External Ref. #70
  22. By courtesy of the Hasting Chronicle Archive
  23. Retrieved from the UK National Archive by Brian Watson
  24. From my postcard collection