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Beached boat c1950s

Extraordinary collection of photographs

My father, Leslie Whitcomb, sadly passed away on 23 October 2010 and he left an extraordinary number of black & white photographs and even more colour slides.

Popular slide shows

In the 1950’s he regularly submitted his pictures at the Brighton Camera Club’s annual exhibition; and later he was much in demand by local organisations for his slide shows. Holiday pictures, scenery, zoo animals and gardens were amongst the subjects enjoyed by many.

A mystery photograph

Among his collection I found this mystery picture which was not catalogued. I would guess it would have been in the early 1950’s and the family would love to know if anyone can trace the event?

If you can help, please leave a comment below. Many thanks.

Beached boat c1950s
The Whitcomb family photograph archive

Comments about this page

  • Hi Peter. Just a guess, but I would say that this was probably as a result of violent gales that occurred, starting from Christmas Eve and lasting through until 28th December 1951. It was reported that many tons of shingle were washed off the beach, completely obliterating the lower esplanade. A number of small yachts and boats were also forced up the beach. You’d be best advised to have a look through the old newspapers in the local history centre. Regards, Andy

    By Andy Grant (02/12/2010)
  • Thanks Andy. I thought I’d found the answer to the beached boat, the Rustler in 1952, on this site’s archives, but it isn’t the same. I’m still looking.

    By Peter Whitcomb (28/12/2010)
  • It doesn’t look like the height of winter, their dress does not indicate ‘cold’! Also sitting on wet pebbles in the winter is not ideal, even if it’s not rained. Winter time the pebbles are always wet!

    By Peter Groves (24/01/2011)
  • I think this may have been the boat that I saw beached around 1957/58. My mother and father often took my brother and myself to Brighton around this time as we had a relative (my father’s Aunt I think) who lived in Stamford Avenue. On several occasions we went to the beach and watched a group of men digging away the shingle from below the boat so that it slipped slowly towards the water’s edge. I never knew the fate of the boat (or the men) but I do remember going to the beach in subsequent years and seeing the boat was no longer there. I just so hope they were successful in their task and would love to hear from anyone who knows the eventual outcome.  

    By Steve Dandridge (24/11/2013)
  • I saw a small sketch of a beached craft by JW Turner at the Maritime Museum in Greenwich yesterday. It was dated 1828-30 – so nothing changes! There was also a large painting of Brighton beach with the old Chain Pier in the background by Constable as a comparison with a later image by Turner.

    By Stefan Bremner-Morris (11/03/2014)
  • Rustler is a name of make, made in Cornwall. Could there be another name for the yacht?  I find this really interesting following up on my father’s interest in all things pertaining to sailing and boating.

    By Bonny Cother (20/02/2015)
  • Definitely not the Rustler. I remember the Rustler as a kid and it was over half buried in the stones. The above boat looks very easy to refloat if it was not too damaged. If I remember rightly the Rustler was burnt on the beach a few years later.

    By Mick Peirson (21/02/2015)
  • The circa 1952 wreck I’m thinking of was more of a large-ish sailing vessel but with a very small crew. I think it beached somewhere east of the West End Cafe and the King Alfred Building.  One of the crew was a young boy who went back onboard to rescue his Cat. My Dad woke me up to see the distress flares from Benfield Crescent in Portslade. Elevation about 130 Feet so a reasonable view of the sea.

    By Christopher McBrien (06/01/2016)
  • This is more like the one I can ‘just’ remember…

    My previous location seems to be wrong.

    By Christopher McBrien (06/01/2016)
  • I believe the beached boat may well have belonged to my grandparents Kenneth and Doreen Maitland. My late mother Cynthia kept newspaper cuttings which my sister and l have in our possession somewhere covering the story of their boat the Rustler coming aground on Brighton beach in the fifties. What does ring a bell is the comment posted that a young boy saved his cat. This would have been my mother’s brother Roger.We do have a newspaper cutting of Roger holding the rescued cat. He did in fact receive a bravery medal for his deed.

    By Wenay Denby (19/03/2019)
  • Yes, I can remember the Rustler and Rodger Maitland and his granddad. He did go back on board to get out they came over to our house 43 Kings Road where we gave him some food. He said he came from Rochester Kent, about the same age as us girls and old pop Maitland with white hair who stayed around Brighton for a good while. Rodger must be about 77, same age as myself. Maybe Rodger went home, the boat was on the beach a long time. Pop tried to get it away but had to be turned around. He did have help but was too near the pier.

    By Penelope Whitelock and Fami (24/09/2019)
  • Thank you Penelope. l was very interested to read your comment about Roger Maitland, who was my uncle who l never met, as sadly he died later in the 1950s, before I was born. After the Rustler incident he joined the merchant navy and tragically drowned at sea in his early twenties, but the circumstances were never fully ascertained. He looked a good looking young man on the photos we have. After losing the Rustler, his parents (my grandparents) Kenneth and Doreen Maitland went on to own another, smaller, boat and went cruising around the south-east coast well into their seventies. I often used to join them in my summer holidays.

    By Wendy Denby (30/10/2020)
  • Yes “The Rustler” I lived in Ship St at the time. I remember her coming ashore 1951, the council burnt her 1953.

    By ALAN HAYES (17/08/2021)
  • I remember this event in 1950 or thereabouts. The son’s bravery was noted. Realizing the family cat would drown, he tied the pet to his back and risked his own life to swim ashore in stormy seas. The boat was beached for a long time with no reasonable means to re-float.

    By Richard White (15/02/2022)

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