Newsletter 2009

Do you remember John Scarlett and his boat ‘Essex Melody’?

My name is John Rogers and I am a member of the Little Ship Club in Maldon. Quite by chance an email to the club in January 2008 alerted me to the fact that Essex Melody was in a caravan storage depot near Nottingham and available to anyone who was prepared to bring her back to Maldon where she was built in 1957. The current owners had allowed her to deteriorate but when my wife Diana and I took a preliminary trip to view her we were very much taken by both her design and her history and realised that she would make a very interesting restoration project.

The more we have gleaned about John Scarlett and his boat the more interested we have become. We have discovered that John was one of those scientists working at Baddow Research in the mid-fifties who did so much to give the company its world recognition at the cutting edge of electronics. Like many of these research scientists he was incredibly dedicated, enthusiastic and determined to the extent that he was regarded as a brilliant yet eccentric character. I have been informed that some of these talented people had very unusual hobbies which not only challenged their intellect but also required enormous dedication and patience. Some chose to restore organs but John chose to design and build a 22ft 6in yacht himself. John was so meticulous that he kept a complete photographic and hours of labour record of Melody being built at Dan Webb and Feesey’s yard in Maldon, from the keel being laid in July 1957 to her launch in September 1959.

Information has been passed down through the three owners since John sold the boat that he may have had access to the earliest forms of computing equipment to help him at the design stage. If this is the case Essex Melody may have considerable ‘heritage value’ as being one of the first boats in history to have been designed with the benefit of some form of ‘computer’ equipment.

John Scarlett also started up the Old Gaffers Association and was their secretary for a number of years. Unfortunately he died in 1984 at the early age of 53 but we have been in touch with his wife Miriam who still lives in Scotland.

If you can add anything to this web of intrigue about the design and building of Essex Melody or have any further information of John Scarlett himself, particularly if you worked with him at Baddow around 1956 to 1959, we would be delighted to hear from you. Alternatively if you live near Maldon come and see the boat for yourself and talk to us!

John and Diana Rogers,
31 Acacia Drive,
Maldon, Essex CM9 6AW.
Tel: 01621 853841