The Everard story - Newbury Diesel Company

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The Everard story

FT Everard & Co

FT Everard and Sons Ltd

Everard’s were founded in 1889 by Frederick T Everard who was a builder of Thames sailing barges with a works at Greenhithe in Kent and moved from building into operating as a result, it is rumoured, of a debt being paid in 1892 in  the form of a sailing barge named ‘Industry’. His second acquisition was a salvaged barge named ‘Elizabeth’ which was rebuilt by his yard in 1895. He continued to build these craft for various companies. His three sons and  a daughter joined him as company directors when the limited company FT Everard and Sons Ltd was formed in 1922. Over a period of time Everard built and acquired a large fleet of these craft.

Of the barges they built,and sailed  out of Greenhithe, amongst them was S.B. Cambria. The Cambria was built of wood in 1906, and is currently undergoing restoration at the Dolphin  Barge Museum in Sittingbourne by the Cambria Trust

At some point in the early part of the century and probably driven by the fact that one of the sons had trained at Plenty and Co of Newbury who manufactured engines, both steam and oil engines for marine use, the company acknowledged that to keep abreast  of the times, mechanical propulsion would need to be used. The first of such crafts was the ‘Grit. The Grit(1) was a sailing vessel powered by an auxiliary engine, a Kromhout 45HP engine. This original Grit was sunk as the result of an altercation  in 1916 during the first world war, with a German submarine UB29 which sunk her by gunfire in the English Chanel. UB29 was herself sunk at the end of 1916 by depth charge from HMS Landrail. Grit was a common name in the Everard fleet, seven vessels carried  the name, the last being built in 1976. Grit(7) was lost after a collision in1988. Of the Grit’s, Grit(2) was fitted with a Plenty-Still engine, Grit(3) of 1934 was fitted with a Newbury built 5SBD engine and Grit(5) with a Sirron 6PMkll engine.

In the 1920,s Fred T Everard, who still clung to a passion for sailing barges, took delivery of four new steel hulled sailing barges, the largest ever built, which he named Will Everard, Fred Everard, Alf Everard and Ethel Everard. Of these, the Ethel  Everard was abandoned at Dunkirk during the evacuation of the troops in 1940. As part of operation Dynamo, the barge was towed to Dunkirk by tug SunXll loaded with water and provisions along with the sailing barge Tollesbury and then abandoned on the  beach. Fred was converted in 1938 to a motor coaster and was fitted with a 4F Newbury engine in 1938 and later during the war, used as a stores tender by the admiralty for the battleship Hood. It sunk after a collision in 1956. Alf Everard was also fitted  with a 4F Newbury engine in the same year. Alf was also sunk in a collision in 1953. The sail  barge Will Everard survived and was eventually sold but with the proviso that the Will Everard name could not be used. It was renamed Will and has passed through  several hands but still survives today. During the latter part of Fred T Everard’s life, his barges were seen at the annual Thames barge matches and usually with some success. After his death in 1929, the tradition of entering barges in these matches  continued until the mid sixties, sponsored by his two sons Frederick and William.

The company played their part in both world wars. During WWll, the company, in addition to providing repairs to war damaged ships and an accelerated building programme, managed on behalf of the ministry a considerable number of smaller ships of similar  tonnage to their own. There were some historic moments, for instance’ MV Antiquity which was fitted out as a rescue ship was used to remove those persons who had registered as refugees from St Helier in the Channel Isles prior to the German invasion.  She embarked 475 refugees and carried them to Weymouth.  

The Everard company had a tradition of naming its ships with the name ending in ‘ity’ and usually, the name beginning with an A although S and C were also used but the MV Agility was the first to carry that style of naming. The first indication  of a Newbury Diesel fitment to one of the ships named after this tradition appears to be the MV Ability fitted in 1928 with a 5P50 engine, followed by MV Amenity, Aridity and Assiduity all with 5P50 engines and they continued with this engine through  to MV Acclivity in about 1931.  
The next engines delivered to Everard were of the SID or SBD type starting with MV Actuality in 1932 through to MV Suavity in 1936. Of these engine types, 22  were supplied to Everard but this included an engine for Grit(3) and the Everard tug Concrete.

With the introduction of the Sirron L and F range of engines in 1937, they were initially installed in MV Serenity and MV Signality and the range included 4F engines for the converted sail barges, MV Fred Everard and MV Alf Everard. An 8L engine was also  supplied for the Thames tug SA Everard. This tug was originally designed for a 7L but this engine was used in MV Sodality built in 1938 and so the more powerful 8L was used instead. The number at the front of the engine designation indicates the number  of cylinders. As the engine design was modular, adding or reducing the number of cylinders was fairly simple design wise.

In 1949 the new range of P type and G type began to appear starting with the MV Antiquity and followed by MV Speciality in 1950  fitted with 4P engines and then MV Auspicity, MV Capacity, MV Averity, MV Flexity and MV Firmity,  engined as 6G’s.  although MV Capacity had a 6GMkll. This engine type and size was also fitted in their tug EA Everard.

MV Serenity ll in 1941, was the first ship to be fitted with the new O type engine although production of the F’s and L’s also continued through 1941 when the Empire Ruby, a ship managed by Everard’s, was fitted with the first production  O, a 6O engine. This ship later became the MV Akinity. With a few exceptions, the O engine continued to be fitted to the Everard ships from MV Acclivity in 1941, a re-engine, through to MV Scarcity, MV Atomcity, MV Sonority and MV Serenity in 1951. During  the war however, five 5O type engines were supplied for the Admiralty and fitted in new minesweepers. There were some O type engines built much later. Two were built in 1956 of the 6O type for the MV Clarity and for the hundredth ship in the Everard fleet,  MV Centurity. Most of the engines of this type supplied were 5O and 6O type engines.   
There were two OMkll engines supllied in 1956 for Everard’s ships a 5OMkll for both MV Aqueity lll and MV Alacrity. The O type continued along with the GA and P type as Mkll versions until the last of the Everard ships fitted with Sirron engines  in 1969. The last of the diesels supplied by Newbury, were two 6OMkll for MV Actuality lll and for MV Apricity.
The latter part of the range of Sirron diesels were supplied with the Newbury Diesel bridge control system. The first of these was the MV Audacity with a 5PMkll engine fitted as standard for Bridge control allowing for the manoeuvring of the ship’s engine from the bridge without assistance from the watchkeeping engineer in the engine room. It should be remembered that the Sirron diesels were all two stroke and that they were directly coupled to the propeller. The engine, to go from ahead to astern,  needed to stop and have its direction on restart, reversed. The future of the Newbury Diesel Company, which was a wholly owned subsidiary of the Everard company, when it ceased the manufacture of engines, transferred its expertise with some success to  the manufacture of remote control systems.

1950 saw the production of engines under licence by JT Thorneycroft of Southampton who built several for the Everard line. These were P type engines, mainly 4p’s fitted into MV Atonality’, MV Security’, MV Seneority and MV Singularity.  Thorneycroft also built under licence, the two engines for the MV Balmoral for the Red Funnel line which they also built. Sirron P type diesels manufactured at Newbury continued at the same time and were fitted in such ships as MV Similarity, MV Seriality  and MV Angularity as 4P’s. A 6PMkll being fitted in the MV Frederick T Everard in 1954 and the MV Georgina V Everard in 1955. A 6PMkll was also fitted in MV Grit(5) mentioned previously.

Three of Everard’s ships which were named outside the ‘ity’ naming traditions, the MV Penelope Everard, the MV Rosemary Everard and the MV Ethel Everard were fitted with 5P Mkll engines.                                                                                                                                                                        

Everard were a proud company and prepared ships for two of the naval Spithhead reviews.
The MV Angularity, built in 1934 and fitted with a Newbury 5SBD engine took part in the 1935 Spithead review. It was later sunk in 1941 by a torpedo from a German E boat whilst on passage to Newcastle.

At the Spithead Coronation review in 1953 Everard’s proudly converted the MV Singularity to accommodate guests for the review and for the occasion, carried a small tender on the forecastle which could be lowered into the water and used to ferry  the guests. The tender carried its own traditional title although perhaps a little tongue in cheek, Hilarity. The MV Singularity was fitted with a Sirron 4P engine but this was one of the engines manufactured by Thorneycroft under licence.

The sad sight of Ethel Everard, at Dunkirk, abandoned and forlorn with, in the top picture, German soldiers taking it easy under her stern.

MV Angularity at the 1935 Spithead review


MV Singularity with the tender Hilarity alongside
at the 1953 Spithead review

A painting on a postcard headed
'Everard Vessels at Kings Lynn Norfolk'.
This is one from a set of postcards commisioned by FT Everard and is the work of the artist Frank Mason.. There are more of these paintings which are available to view on Colin's HMS Worcester  website,  also a section showing the various Everard advertisements  produced, again, using Frank Mason's work  and usually on a magazine back cover..
The paintings were also used on the Everard Christmas cards sent out each year to employees and customers.


The Greenhithe shipyard.
From a Frank Mason painting.

The sight of an Everard Barge, the SB Cambria in full sail can hardly fail to impress even the most hardened sailor. The modern eco warriors can only wish that this almost carbon  neutral means of conveying cargo had not just passed into memory. For your dose of nostalgia, visit the Cambria trust where the barge is undergoing restoration.


The Everard pennant


For details of the barge Cambria and also a little more about the early Everard days, follow this link which will open in another page.

Link to Cambria


Everard's were proud of their barge heritage and continued to race barges long after they ceased to carry cargo. One of their early barges SB Sara was captured  on film by British Pathe newsreel. There is a good shot at the end of the skipper proudly holding the trophy and in addition to the smart Sara jumper, his FT Everard cap badge can clearly be seen. The film can be viewed by clicking here.

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