Skylark Launch circa 1940s
Bolson boat sinks off Bournemouth Pier with
70 passengers on board; miraculously only 1 loss of life
Skylark 6 had returned to
peacetime duties for the first time on Easter Saturday morning operating
from the pier and was in the charge of Frederick Vincent assisted by
On its 13:45 trip 70
passengers were on board and all seemed normal until a heavy knocking was
heard. Vincent thought that the noise had come from the gear box, but then
decided that the knocking had come from further aft. Kent was sent to make
an examination and he tightened some bolts, which he thought may have been
the cause of the noise.
The engine was put back
in gear but the same knocking noise occurred and the engine appeared to be
racing. A further inspection was made but it was now noticed that water was
seeping up through the floorboards. Two pumps were put into action, although
no attempt was made to locate the leak. The horn was sounded as a sign of
distress and a flag waved from the end of an oar.
Bournemouth Pier Easter
Sunday 21st April 1946. On such a day what could be better than a short
cruise around Poole Bay lasting Ĺ hour on J. Bolson & Sonís Skylark 6
- a 45 feet open passenger launch, motor-powered and licensed to carry 82
passengers. Built at Poole in 1922 it already had an interesting history.
During May 1940 it had been involved in the famous Dunkirk evacuation but
was put out of action by a near miss from a bomb and had subsequently
drifted about the Channel for about four days practically waterlogged. The
vessel was finally recovered, taken to Dover and then towed back to Poole.
After being fully overhauled Skylark 6 was again requisitioned by the
Admiralty for use in Poole harbour until it was handed back to Bolson early
Mr Bolson, senior, who
was on the beach was informed that his vessel was apparently in some
distress and he immediately organised a rescue. By now a variety of
small rowing boats was coming to the rescue and when the first one arrived
it found that the water in Skylark 6 was almost up to the thwarts
(the top of the wooden seats). Shortly afterwards the high-powered launch of
British Overseas Airways Corporation arrived from Poole rescued the
remaining passengers. Sadly, Reginald Kent. died from shock when a
wave engulfed him.
The accident, like the
Bournemouth sinking of 60 years earlier, showed how an innocent and very
pleasant cruise could so easily and quickly turn to disaster. Thankfully on
both occasions the sea conditions were most favourable, otherwise there
would have been far more tragic results.