From this point local memories and records come into play. Discussions with local residents who still remember her say she was converted to a floating houseboat around the time of the Second World War and kept in a mud berth at Luke’s Boatyard in Hamble. This cannot be proved as, unfortunately, the yard caught fire around 1950 and all records were destroyed. Some people remember the boat being a “place of ill repute”, a brothel used by service personnel during the Second World War, and it was soon “run out of town”. For a brief period the Norseman was kept at Lands End near the Jolly Sailor public house before finally coming to rest on the banks of the River Hamble at Lower Swanwick.
A local resident, Mr Gillett now in his 90’s and living in one of the six listed Victory Cottages used to house the ship builders from the Napoleonic War, provided further background information. One night, sometime after moving to Swanwick, a “Kelvinator” aboard the Norseman caught fire and the family on board forced to flee. Mr Gillett rushed up the gangplank and helped save a mother and baby. Many years later the baby, now fully grown, returned to Mr. Gillett to trace his family history.
Recently it was discovered that the Norseman suffered a final indignity when someone (the council or private individual?) attempted to scatter the wreck with explosives!
The fire and explosives were the final undoing of this once proud racing yacht and today the effects of time, tide and people removing timber for firewood have taken a heavy toil. If considered important enough the wreck needs to be protected before the remaining timber and metal artifacts are lost forever. However, it is suspected that the remains will gently slide beneath the mud and lie hidden and forgotten................
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