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Gavin Maxwell

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Joined: 25 March 2014
Location: Bury, Lancs
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    Posted: 25 March 2014 at 7:22pm
Does anyone have any information on Gavin Maxwell's former ST 200 then named Polar Star?

The boat was sold locally to Camusfearna (Sandaig/Kyle of Lochalsh/Mallaig) a little before Maxwell's death in 1969 with a view to restoration. I am sure I found an Internet reference to suggest she survived at least for some years afterwards when doing some research a few years ago. Unfortunately, I can find no reference to her service marks although pictures show her with hull rubbing strakes unlike many of the surviving examples.

I have looked through the forum posts and none of the survivors referenced here seems to fit the likely history although ST206 'went missing' between 1946 and 1990 and is a potential if unlikely candidate.

Thanks for any help you can offer.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Polar Star Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 March 2014 at 6:50pm
I have now discovered Polar Star was an ex-Bridlington boat that probably took part in the famous rescues there in 1952 and may have been decommissioned shortly afterwards. Unfortunately, the original ad as quoted by Gavin Maxwell could have been wrong in several respects because she was described as a T.S.D.Y., which seems to refer to a later class and the date of 1952 cannot have been a construction date. Going off evidence it seems to fall on RAF 438 or 442 but there is a possibility that the dimensions may have been approximate and therefore, she could be the even more historically famous RAF 357. I am currently following a trail to her final fate (assuming she has been destroyed) but whatever her original identity, she seems to have had a very notable life. Sadly, the chances of finding much left have diminished because I now know she parted company with her engines when based at Troon although her last known existence was when sold by a boatyard in Perth to an unknown buyer in the Borders.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Polar Star Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 May 2014 at 9:30am
Further information: I have managed to obtain movement cards for 438 and 444 from the RAF Museum with thanks to Andrew Dennis. Sadly, neither boat is a candidate for Polar Star - 444 seems to have been mostly active away from Bridlington and 438 was returned to Mount Batten to storage before SOC a year later.

Indeed, I have now managed to establish Polar Star's type and she was not a 41.5 ft boat but a 40 ft early MkI. I am now trying to get hold of a copy of Terry Holtham's RAF Marine Craft Directory Volume 3 but he does not seem to be answering emails at present. It seems the fact that Polar Star was purchased by Gavin Maxwell from Bridlington was a red herring and she may have served elsewhere when in RAF service. Her civilian marks (W273) suggest she was registered at Waterford and not Whitby, as would have been expected but I have yet to receive any reply from the harbour master at Waterford to clear up whether marks are/were recycled given that a small fishing boat now holds the registration.

At the other end of her life, there seems to be no mention of a boat matching her description after 1974 when she was purchased by an ex-seaplane tender crewman in the Scottish Borders. The simplest explanation is that she was broken up shortly afterwards despite being bought fro restoration. However, it is possible the crewman is no longer alive if he served in the 1940s so the project may have simply lapsed. The only principle port in the Borders is Eyemouth but the harbour master there tells me that he does not know of any seaplane tenders being there. This present the intriguing possibility that Polar Star went to an 'inland' location and as such, she may be tucked away in a barn or a garage somewhere to this day. On the other hand, this is possibly one mystery that will never be solved whereas her early career should be accessible despite all the various mysteries.

Any help or suggestions would be gratefully recieved.
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