Commissioned by her owners, Eric Albert and Arthur (Sonny) Cardy, childhood friends from Brentwood and Hornchurch.
The VIKING SAGA was built by Wallasea Yacht Station Ltd., Wallasea Bay, Essex in 1947. Particulars of Ship as recorded on her first CERTIFICATE OF BRITISH REGISTRY, number 167015, dated 22.09.1947 with the registered owner - Victory Pleasure Boats Ltd, Fullbridge, Maldon, Essex.
British Motor Ship, Twin Screw, one Deck, one Mast, No rigging, Straight Stern, Carvel Build, Framework and Description - Wood/Passenger. Bulkheads - Three W.T.
She was designed with a flat bottomed hull specifically to enable her to operate in very shallow waters and was originally licensed to carry 105 passengers locally and 99 on her longer trips to Clacton.
The Viking Saga played a huge part in our parents actually meeting, without her our family would never have existed. Sonny and Eric saw and heard the stunning looking teenager, Rene Kirner, playing her piano accordion at Gt. Totham Village Hall; they persuaded her to be part of the team, her role was to play records or her piano accordion and also look after the young ladies that boarded.
Love blossomed between Sonny and Rene and so began the Cardy love affair with each other and the Viking Saga.
For a year she operated from the Promenade beach, running half hourly river trips and also Moonlight Cruises to the estuary, for the romantically inclined, with Rene playing melodies on her accordion.
The Viking's arrival and popularity resulted in a lot of jealousy from other business rivals on the river. She was too large, she was taking away their livelihood, the council shouldn't have granted consent to her "foreign owners". She didn't belong on the Blackwater and neither did the owners. The Council were confronted by the "locals" who had resorted to petitioning her removal.
I can imagine that she was extremely controversial back in those early post war days. Brand spanking new, a flat bottom and bigger than anything else on the river with a bar and live entertainment. Eric and Sonny weren't "foreigners" they had been working at Bradwell on Sea and knew the river Blackwater and were obviously more forward thinking than most, Eric was a business man that had businesses and property in Maldon. Eric wouldn't have quit and Sonny wouldn't have walked away from his dream, we know there wasn't the quantity of passengers that they wanted for every trip and that the tidal waters were restrictive but quite why she was sold on, we don't know and have no way of finding out now but she was and didn't come back into the Cardy/Albert hands until 1954 where she stayed until 1963.
The Following is recorded in her Registry.
22.09.1947 - sole owner, Victory Pleasure Boats Ltd, Maldon, Essex
23.10.1948 - sole owner, George Sutton of Clacton on Sea, Essex
27.04.1950 - joint owners, Elizabeth Sutton (Widow) and Noel Pawsey (Accountant) of Clacton on Sea, Essex
22.06.1950 - sole owner, Winifred Filmer of Clacton on Sea, Essex
31.10.1950 - joint owners, Winifred Filmer and John Hutchinson of Clacton on Sea, Essex
Sonny was watching football at Romford one Saturday when an urgent tannoy announcement was made for him, it was to inform him that the Viking Saga was laying at Brightlingsea in a state of some neglect. Sonny and Eric bought her back and restored her and operated her from the beaches at Clacton on Sea.
23.03.1954 - sole owner, Eric Albert of Great Warley, Brentwood, Essex
25.02.1963 - sole owner, Richard Harman of Clacton on Sea, Essex
26.07.1974 - sole owner, The Arrochar Boathiring Company Ltd of Arrochar, Dumbartonshire, Scotland
06.09.1976 - sole owner, Susan Crockford, Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Dyfed, Wales
21.03.1985 - joint owners, Gwyn Lewis and Roy Young of Tenby, Dyfed, Wales
24.02.1989 - joint owners, Michael Crockford and Stephen Crockford, Tenby, Dyfed, Wales
.1999 - sole owner, Landbreach Ltd, Maldon, Essex
It looks like she was operating her first season from Clacton beach in 1949. She soon became a huge attraction and featured in many of the old postcards as a tourist attraction for the town; there was a full panoramic photo of her covering one whole wall in the restaurant that used to be on the other side of the Pier. Apart from her 30 minute round trips on the Wallet she would often go out to visit the pirate, off-shore radio station "Radio Caroline". She would rest up at night moored in the shallow waters beyond the pier, should the forecast be rough seas then she would go to the safety of shelter at nearby, Brightlingsea.
Sonny lived at Clacton for majority of the summer season, sometimes he would come home and take me and my two younger brothers back with him for the day or if we were lucky, for longer.
On some occasions the whole family and relatives could be seen strolling down the esplanade, sitting on the beach or taking a trip on the pleasure boat, Clacton became our second home and there were plans for us to move there at one stage.
The Viking Saga lived at Clacton during the summer months and spent her winters, under cover, on the slips at Rowhedge. Sonny would spend this time doing necessary maintenance work and refresh her after a hard season's operation, stripping and rebuilding the Perkins diesel engines, he was a trained Tool fitter and Marine Engineer and was in his element tinkering around on the heart of his baby. Our dad was a perfectionist and worked at his pace - she was often late in re-launching for her next working season but I can't recall a time when she ever broke down!
Eric wasn't a working partner in the Viking and eventually sold his share, the company disbanded and she passed out of our family's hands in 1963. Sonny continued to operate from Clacton with his other two boats, the 42 foot Nemo 11 and the wooden speed boat "Surf Queen" until he sold up several years later. The Viking Saga remained at Clacton for a few more years but was then sold on and lived at Dumbarton, Scotland for two years, eventually finding herself at Tenby in Wales where she operated from 1976/98.
For the continuation of her history please go to THE RETURN TO HER BIRTHPLACE
Participant Badge £8.00
I've put the price charged as it is amusing really. The cost of attending this historic event was extremely high for most participants and they then charge you £8 for your badge of honour.
Apparently one Japanese entry sadly arrived one day late and missed the whole pageant!
Tenby - sitting on blocks
She was now in the hands of her third owners in Tenby, a younger generation of Crockfords.
THE GOLDEN OLDEN ERA
Maldon (1947 -48) and Clacton.
Running from the Promenade beach she is just slightly closer to the lake
than where Tommy Hedgecock ran the Nelson and Unity. Though in these photos there is no evidence of any other pleasure boats.
At Clacton, the Viking Saga and Nemo 11 used to work from the same groyne alternating the trips. Whilst one was out the other would be loading up the passengers, this enabled them to collect monies as passengers were disembarking as they had plenty of time to load up again.
RE-KINDLING OF AN OLD LOVE AFFAIR
Capturing her discovery in Tenby, the arduous journey back to Maldon and the renovations and re-build that followed
THAMES DIAMOND JUBILEE PAGEANT
and a variety of photographs of the Viking Saga in the last decade.
Some of these captures have been taken by unknown professional photographers; if you recognise your work, please contact me and I will give you full credit for the contribution. I will thank you in advance for your kind consideration.
History including family archive images - scroll down for photos
VS - Clacton on Sea
Thanks to Alan King for supplying this photo of the Viking Saga operating from Clacton beaches.
Dad at mum's kiosk
Only posing cos according to mum, he never ever worked at the kiosk, unlike the rest of the family.