Print Page | Close Window

Ex Customs & Excise vessel - "Guardwell"

Printed From: BMPT Forum
Category: General Discussion
Forum Name: Coastal Forces
Forum Description: Discussion about Coastal Forces
Printed Date: 06 June 2020 at 10:55am

Topic: Ex Customs & Excise vessel - "Guardwell"
Posted By: Old Diesels
Subject: Ex Customs & Excise vessel - "Guardwell"
Date Posted: 20 February 2006 at 2:25pm
3 years ago I made a coastal trip from Torquay to Dartmouth on a vessel called Guardwell. The skipper said it used to be with the HM customs and excise.
The twin engines sounded very healthy and the pushed us along at a good pace. Would any of your contributors have any information regarding the age, engine make or history of this vessel.

Many thanks

Posted By: stevep
Date Posted: 28 July 2006 at 2:12pm

She is still in Torbay, still doing the River Dart / Agatha Christie's house trip but has now been renamed "Riviera Belle".

My understanding is that she is ex RAF rather than Customs but I stand to be corrected on that one.

I'll see what I can find out about her engines as her current owner is a friend of a friend.

Regards, Steve Powell.

Posted By: Old Diesels
Date Posted: 01 August 2006 at 2:18pm
Thanks for the reply Steve, regarding her original use -I only went by the information the skipper gave over the tannoy during our trip. Any information you can gather would be of interest and also if possible a photograph of her now.
All the best.
Steve Draper

Posted By: Christian
Date Posted: 01 August 2006 at 5:35pm
Current picture at - .Not ex RAF by the look of her.

Posted By: Old Diesels
Date Posted: 02 August 2006 at 12:33pm
Thanks for the Photo link Christian, perhaps someone can now get a positive id and inform us of her original use.

Posted By: Guardwell
Date Posted: 13 July 2011 at 1:01pm
Old Diesels, stevep, Christian and others,
Please find further info regarding Guardwell, which, I hope will be of interest to you and also help us all find out as much as we can about this little boat. Please bear in mind that not all of the info regarding her past can be verified.
Built at Bideford Yard in 1971, launched 1972. Built for HM Customs & Excise and operated out of Falmouth and Plymouth to assist in border control and counter smuggling duties. Picture of her alongside Trinity Quay, Millbay, Plymouth, bows south -
The site says Princess Quay, but I'm reliably informed that this is infact Trinity Quay; not her usual mooring when in Plymouth.
She was one of three Cutters built for HM Customs, one other is still thought to be alive and well, the other unfortunately not.
Guardwell served the South West Coast of England and the West Coast of Scotland. She was relieved from duties and sold to a private buyer that converted her to a passenger ferry and operated her out of Ullapool. I'm lead to believe this was late 1980's. She was bought by the Bolus family of Torbay in the 1990's and continued as a passenger ferry, then sold to the Ford family in 2006 where she continues as a ferry but under a new name 'Riviera Belle'.
Old Diesels:
She is powered by two AEC AV760's. They are 12.45 litre (760 cubic inches) straight six deisels converted for marine use. The water cooled manifold and water injected exhaust only adds to the exhaust note...heard by Old Diesels! They were used extensively in land vehicles and for military and specialist civilian applications, for example, the Militant Mk3 -
Transmission is via two Self Change MRF700's
Anything you want to know or anything to add, please please don't hesitate.
Best Regards

Posted By: Old Diesels
Date Posted: 13 July 2011 at 1:28pm
many thanks for your reply and the interesting information.
I was down in the Torbay area on Saturday and my trip on Guardwell came to mind again. As you mentioned, she is still probably earning her keep as a trip boat, perhaps someone may be able to provide an current photo ?



Posted By: Guardwell
Date Posted: 13 July 2011 at 1:37pm
Sadly no, she's no longer earning her keep, but that's another story! I have plenty of current photos but it'll be a little while before I want to share any of them.
Do you have any knowledge of the AEC's?

Posted By: Old Diesels
Date Posted: 13 July 2011 at 2:05pm
Hello again !
My main diesel interests involve :- Ex BR Diesel loco's, old excavators, AEC lorries and vintage diesel powered canal boats. Basically I like good sounding engines !
I was in Torbay on Saturday on a special train hauled by a preserved Deltic loco powered by two Napier Deltic 1650 HP 2 stroke engines ( I beleive they were originally designed for fast patrol boats ).
Regarding the engines, I have contacts within the AEC lorry circles and was aware or their use in the AEC Militant.
I have 2 AEC Matador lorries of my own.
I am connected with the diesel preservation movement and can probably get you more info about the AV760's, let me know what you need.



Posted By: Guardwell
Date Posted: 13 July 2011 at 3:08pm
Fantastic...! Always a pleasure to marvel at a Deltic. I share your enthusiasm for the great sounding diesels along with an appreciation for real robust engineering.
Thanks for the offer to help. General info regarding overhauling would be of use. I'll send you a quick PM with some specifics.

Posted By: stevep
Date Posted: 01 August 2011 at 5:33pm
You could try emailing -  with your questions as they owned her (under the name Riviera Belle) until last year.
I don't know who owns her now I'm afraid.
Steve Powell.


Posted By: stevep
Date Posted: 01 August 2011 at 5:42pm
Just relaised I've read this rather old thread upside down and replied to the original question (again!).
Must be an age thing.


Posted By: km4079
Date Posted: 25 June 2019 at 1:33am
is anyone still around... i really need some info about this vessel. It has a very special place in my heart.

Posted By: km4079
Date Posted: 25 June 2019 at 1:34am
I know its years ago but you never know.

Posted By: Guardwell
Date Posted: 25 June 2019 at 12:33pm
I'm still here

What would you like to know?

Print Page | Close Window