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Happy final days aboard boat used in historic rescue

The three Southwick heroes, Bill Gardener, Jack Short and 'Smut' Smart with the Florence SUS-140705-102623003

The three Southwick heroes, Bill Gardener, Jack Short and 'Smut' Smart with the Florence SUS-140705-102623003

THE final years of the Florence, the boat that was used in a dramatic sea rescue a century ago, have been revealed.

Mr Carl Roslyn, of East Meadway, Shoreham Beach, contacted the Herald following last week’s article by Ted Heasman, which told of the three men in a boat who became heroes when they saved the captain of a sinking ship.

Florence was a 16ft-long huffling boat used by Bill Gardener, Jack Short and ‘Smut’ Smart from Southwick to save Walter Jones when steam ship Miown sank on February 11, 1914.

Mr Jones was the only one of a crew of eight to survive.

The article explained the Florence was eventually sold and came into the hands of Lou Brazier, who fitted her out with an inboard engine and used the boat for fishing.

Afterwards, she belonged to Lou’s son, the late Les Brazier, known as ‘Brusher’.

Mr Roslyn, 73, said his father had met Les after the family moved to Shoreham Beach in 1949.

He remembered the happy times he and his brother spent on Florence with their father.

“We had a lot of fun. He had to alter the engine and used parts from an old Austin 7 to do so. He used it for fishing for a good ten years,” he added.

Having read last week’s article, Mr Roslyn searched through his father’s things and found the receipt, which showed he bought Florence for £70 on April 5, 1954.

“We built the gunnels up a bit and we used it for pleasure fishing,” he recalled.

But by the late 1950s, the boat had reached the point it could not longer be used.

Mr Roslyn remembered: “It was not seaworthy, it was worn out. We actually burnt it on the beach, in the days when you could do that.”

He said he was proud of the boat’s history and that a lot of people still spoke about the rescue, as there were several in the area who had connections to the men involved. At the time, Florence was owned by Bill Gardener and the trio launched it when John Short spotted a person hanging on a mast of the sinking ship.

 

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