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  • Writer's picturepeterlangworthy


When I bought Annanetta back in 2003 she came with so much stuff!! Everything from cork life jackets (binned), a "explosive" launcher for firing safety lines (I still have the lines but not the explosives), an old 1960s "Sailor" radio system (still Squirrelled away) , copious brass fixtures and fittings (similarly squirrelled), and of course much much more.

Some items I know will get thrown out "next time", some will languish quite a bit longer. Some treasures though rise phoenix like through the detritus when imagination, determination, money and expertise come together.

This is one such instance.

Only a couple of months ago we were having one of our - lets sort out our arch storage space out - episodes and this item made its way to the surface.

When I bought Annanetta this searchlight was on the front of the wheelhouse roof under a very tight fitting cover that had over the years contracted like shrink-wrap around the device!

The notion that it should be restored to at least working order was overpowering. However that was balanced with an overwhelming sense of - but how?

As I fiddled with the component parts I was taken by its simple but effective design. One that I'm sure is familiar to many but for me the twist and rotate action of the inside controls enabling the searchlight on the roof above to both rotate and pivot was just great!

Of course finding the way forward only really needed a chat with my neighbour Stu!! I knew that Steve Dennett would most likely be able to chart me a path but that would take the project out of my hands and the journey wouldn't be so beguiling. Fewer chats about the progress and mutual delight that Stu and I can share in a gradual transformation project.

So Stu took the unit apart and I set about the search for a company who could do the re-chroming. I tried a couple until I found Ashford Chroming Chrome Plating | Rechroming | Chroming - Ashford Chroming

I sent photos of the parts over to them and they came back with a very reasonable quote. Their delivery promise was 3 weeks which sounded great so off went the parts. Stu and I were a little apprehensive - could they really return something so pitted and tarnished to a reasonable state.

However we had other thoughts to occupy us. How were we going get the actual "light" bit to work? The "original" lamp was a 150W 12v Siemens tubular Halogen lamp with a E27 cap. I couldn't help but feel that technology had moved on and could now provide a better solution. So I hunted down a 55W 12v LED car head light that Stu figured he could retrofit into the can. So that was ordered and quickly received. Then we waited. Unfortunately the 3 week promise turned out to be a little bit longer but the staff at Ashford were great and when the box of bits did eventually return it was with some trepidation that I opened it. I needn't have worried! The results were superb!!

Stu and I were then itching to put everything together and get it working. Just one fly in the ointment - Stu had some other commitments that kept him preoccupied for a further 2 weeks.

I decide to take this time to see find the oldest record of the searchlight in my archives. I knew that it was on Annanetta when I bought her.

However this pic from the early 1960s left me uncertain.

Is that our searchlight hiding behind the loudhailer? A loudhailer? Why?

Fortunately though the Brazil family archive video proved wonderfully decisive as you can see below!

Its just fantastic to be able to reach back over 70 years and establish that yes indeed our searchlight has been around for a while. While we can't prove that it was in-situ when she edged away from Graham Bunn's Wroxham yard in 1939 it was on Annanetta's roof less than 10 years later.

So that's original in my book!

Anyway back to June 2022, 16th June to be precise, our 10th wedding anniversary and the return of the searchlight to its rightful position!

Doesn't it look great! But at this stage its not wired up so the whole purpose wasn't yet tested.

Then yesterday 17th June Stu completed the wiring meaning that the acid test was on for that evening.

At the moment though there isn't enough darkness until well past 10pm. So we were forced to stay up drinking on a lovely barmy evening with anticipation mounting. Again we weren't disappointed - 80 year old engineering, latest lighting technology and Stu's inventiveness delivered at the first flick of the switch.

The only thing brighter than the 1930's searchlight was the megawatt beam on our faces!!

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