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Terror - Emsworth Oyster Boat

Image of Terror - Emsworth Oyster BoatTerror is the last remaining oyster boat from the once thriving fleet that worked out of Emsworth.

She has recently been restored and is now available for public trips on Chichester Harbour.

A series of photographs are in our online Photo Gallery. If you have anymore photos or historical detail please get in contact with the Harbour Office.

Recent History

In 2003, the Terror, an open sailing boat built circa 1880 and used for conveying oysters around Chichester Harbour was lying in a greenhouse near Emsworth in a derelict state. The then owner was no longer able to continue with the repairs and appealed for a new owner through the Chichester Observer.

As the only surviving Victorian working boat in Chichester Harbour, the Conservancy was keen to see her restored to her former glory; a plan was made to get work underway. Funding for the £100,000, three-year restoration project was secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

In 2004, Terror was moved to Dolphin Quay Boatyard in Emsworth. Dolphin Quay is one of the few yards left in the area that had experience working on classic wooden boats and it is also almost next door to where Terror was built over 100 years ago!

Throughout the restoration, the public were welcomed into the yard to follow the work. Terror once again became part of the local community as people eagerly followed her progress. Jane Weeks of the Heritage Lottery Fund launched her at the Emsworth Food Festival on Friday 8 September 2006. The Very Reverend James Atwell, Dean of Winchester, blessed her and those who will sail in her.


We are slowly piecing together the complete story of Terror. If you have sailed in her or know anything more about her history please contact us.

Table containing Emsworth contact details

Terror was built by Foster’s boatyard at Emsworth. She was owned by Jack Kennet a local oyster merchant.

Emsworth had one of the finest oyster fleets in the country. There were more than 20 large ketches and smacks, some over 200 registered tons. Some of these were Echo, Nonpareil, Indian Queen and Gypsy Queen. These vessels didn't have engines and had to be winched out of the channel by lines attached to hauling posts sunk into the sides of the channels. From there they went into the open waters of the English Channel to dredge for oysters and scallops. The catch was landed at south coast ports and much of it was taken directly to London. Some of them were brought back to Chichester Harbour to be relaid or stored for market.

Terror and other similar small working boats collected the catch from the larger vessels which couldn't come into the shallow water at the top of the channel and transported them back to the shore. The oysters were then placed in lays or ponds, the remains of which can be seen when the tide goes out. At this time about 100,000 oysters were taken to market in London each week.

When not working with the oyster fleet, Terror was used to transport sand and gravel from the Winner Bank at the harbour entrance. The sand and gravel was used in building work in the harbourside villages.


A recently laid sewerage system discharged sewage directly into the harbour. As a result the oysters grew fat and juicy from the nutrients. However some of them also became infected.

At a mayoral banquet in Winchester in December 1902, the Dean of Winchester and two others contracted typhoid and died shortly afterwards as a result of eating Emsworth oysters. The oyster industry crashed overnight..

1915-1938 Between the wars Terror was still owned by Jack Kennett and continued to transport sand and gravel around the harbour. She was also used for leisure sails by Jack who sometimes took out children from the local Sunday School. One of these children, Ernest Rudkin, was at the relaunch of Terror in 2006 aged 101.
1938-1960 Terror was sold in the last 1930s and was based in Portsmouth. She had a number of different owners including a Mr Matthews, a tug master, who allowed her to be used by the Portsmouth Sea Scouts. A number of improvements and repairs are made to her including replanking.
1960 Terror is now owned by Mr David Clark of Paulsgrove. He drowned in a tragic accident whilst out sailing Terror in 1960.
1961-1970 Terror is kept on the beach at Paulsgrove and regularly sailed in Portsmouth Harbour. In 1968 she was bought by Mr RA Leggett. By now her mast, sail, keel and rudder have been lost.
1971-2000 Terror is bought by the Portsmouth Museum and kept in the Maritime workshop at Gosport. A few small repair jobs are undertaken. Due to a lack of funds the Museum plan to break up Terror. James Christmas takes over ownership with the intention of restoring her.
2000-2004 James Christmas shortly based on ownership of Terror to Chris White. She is stored in a greenhouse in Southbourne, West Sussex with the intention of restoring her. Little work takes place and when Mr White moved from the area in 2004 he appealed through the Chichester Observer for someone to take over the project so that she can stay in her local waters. Chichester Harbour Conservancy are able to secure funds for the restoration mainly from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
2004-2006 Work starts on restoration at Dolphin Quay boatyard. Richard Uttley leads the work helped by apprentice Sam Poore. Throughout the restoration open days are held so that local people can follow the progress of the work.
8 Sept 2006 Restoration work is completed and Terror is re-launched at a ceremony held as part of the Emsworth Food Festival. The ceremony is led by Lt Col John Davis, Harbour Master. Jane Weeks, Chairman of the Southeast Region of the Heritage Lottery Fund launched the boat by pouring champagne on her bows. The Very Reverend James Atwell, the Dean of Winchester, blessed the boat and all those who will sail in her.
May 2007 A programme of public trips on Terror began taking six passengers at a time on two hour trips. She was crewed by local volunteer sailors.

Public Trip Detail

Scheduled public trips on Terror will take place between May and September. Departure times are available in our on-line monthly events guide.

How to Book

All places must be booked and paid for in advance, telephone 01243 513275. If we cancel a trip, you will be offered an alternative date or a refund. Otherwise refunds will only be given if a minimum of 10 days notice of cancellation has been given to the Harbour Office.

What to Wear

Wear warm and waterproof clothing. Lifejackets will be provided and must be worn at all times. Deck shoes or trainers are ideal. No leather soled shoes or heels are allowed on board.

Charter Trips

Please call 01243 513275 to discuss your requirements. The boat can only be supplied with a skipper. Up to 4 hours - £100, up to 8 hours - £200.

Project Partners

Further Information

Programme of Walks & Activities Image of people walking Photo GalleryImage of a boat Solar HeritageImage of Solar Heritage