On the south bank of the River Adur, between the A259 road bridge and the Adur Ferry footbridge in Shoreham-by-Sea, lie approximately 46 houseboats (the number changes quite often). East of the footbridge are four more and across the river on the north bank is a small and frequently changing collection in Surrey Boat Yard. Approximately half of these houseboats are ex-military vessels and twelve are former Royal Navy Coastal Forces craft, representing the densest collection of the Spitfires of the Sea in the UK.
Shoreham’s houseboats are certainly one of the more unusual collection of homes on the south coast and is described by some as a colony. Boats began to moor here in the 1970s and since then it has grown into a collection of floating homes that command high prices and are popular with artists as well as people seeking a more independent lifestyle.
Over time, many boats have come and gone. There used to be a Fairmile D — MTB 762 — and a CMB here. The military craft still present include Landing Craft Assault (LCA), tank and ammunition lighters, Admiralty pinnaces, RAF High Speed Launches and the largest vessel in this eclectic collection, the 155ft German 1960s Schutze class minesweeper, M1096. British Power Boat vessels are the most numerous and include a High Speed Launch, an MGB, two High Speed Target Towing Launches, two MA/SBs and four MTBs (all as launched, some were refitted during the war), a testament to the build quality of these boats from Hythe.
The Coastal Forces craft are shown in the map below. They include the only three known survivors of the Vosper 73ft MTBs, possibly the only surviving J Samuel White MTB and a mix of early MA/SB / MGB, and late MGB / MTB British Power Boats.
There is one addition. Although not strictly a Coastal Forces vessel, houseboat Valeur is former Fairmile H LCI (S) 508, one of 50 built nationwide and eight built by Frank Curtis & Sons Ltd. in Looe, Cornwall. This is the only one of the Shoreham houseboats that appears on the National Register of Historic Vessels.
- Philip Simons & Nick Hall, 2010. Retired on the River: Houseboats of Shoreham, a Short History. 4th Ed. World Ship Society, Small Craft Group.
- John Lambert & Al Ross, 1990. Allied Coastal Forces of World War II Volume 1: Fairmile Designs & US Submarine Chasers. Conway Maritime Press.
- John Lambert & Al Ross, 1993. Allied Coastal Forces of World War II Volume 2: Vosper MTBs & US ELCOs. Conway Maritime Press.
- Leonard Reynolds, 2000. Home Waters MTBs & MGBs at War. Sutton Publishing.
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