Society Spring Event: Lawrence in Hythe and Southampton Water

10am, Saturday 20 May 2017
Meeting at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, Portsmouth, PO1 3LJ

On Saturday 20 May we are repeating this event which proved so popular in 2013. Participants will get to ride on the historic HSL 102 powerboat and visit Hythe, where Lawrence worked on similar craft from 1931-32.

‘Do you ever get near Hythe in your wanderings? I base here, and test or tune motor boats for a living – 3/9d a day – but interesting, and I get what I want done’ –
Lawrence to Colonel S. F. Newcombe, 1932

HSL 102 was built in 1936 by the British Power Boat Company at Hythe. It is the only 100 class high-speed launch to survive. HSL 102 took part in the Battle of Britain and together with her fellow launches rescued more than 13,000 airmen from the sea.

Although Lawrence was not involved with this particular class, the boat contains many design features and developments made possible by the 200 class that he worked on. Fully restored and now owned by the British Military Powerboat Trust, a ride at speed on HSL 102 is the closest we will get to the thrill that Lawrence must have experienced when testing similar craft at Hythe.

We will meet in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard at 10am for a one-hour trip on HSL 102. Participants will have an opportunity to take the helm and drive the boat at speed. Afterwards we will travel to Town Quay, Southampton, and take the ferry to Hythe.

Lawrence was posted to Hythe in 1931-32 to oversee the construction and trials of new 32 1/2ft seaplane tenders for the RAF. For most of this time Lawrence lodged at Myrtle Cottage in Shore Road. A blue plaque records his occupation.

Nearby can be found many modern hangars and the
ruins of the British Power Boat Company workshops, where Lawrence was employed. Some of the concrete slipways, that may have been used to launch the power boats, can be seen along the shore. In addition the first hovercraft were developed here in the 1950s, led by Sir Christopher Cockerell. The slipways and site of the tank used to test the hovercraft can still be seen, as can a memorial and the house where Cockerell lived.

Attendees may wish to stay in the area for a long weekend, combining the day with a visit to Clouds Hill, where the National Trust will be holding From Desert to Dorset, a fortnight of talks and displays from 6 to 21 May. See the National Trust website HERE for details.

The day before the boat trip, members are also welcome to attend a wreath laying ceremony organised by the Society at Lawrence’s grave in Moreton, marking the 82nd anniversary of his death on 19 May 1935. Details will appear on the website nearer the time.

The boat trip costs £40 and it is limited to nine people only. Please note that this does not include lunch or the price of the Hythe ferry (£7 return).  Members may join us without taking the boat trip (there is plenty to see around the Historic Dockyard) or join us later in the day (subject to prior arrangement with the organiser) for a charge of £5.

Participants will make their own way from Portsmouth to Southampton. It should be possible to arrange car shares nearer the time.

To book your place for this exciting event, please email Harriet Coates HERE. The boat trip is limited to nine people; we will then put names on a waiting list. However, all members are welcome to join us for the other events of the day.