African Queen, the historic vessel from Humphrey Bogart's only Oscar winning performance, has been resurrected and restored by a movie-loving Florida couple.
The 100-year-old steam boat, named after its starring role in the 1951 hit movie of the same name, provided the setting for the classic picture that told the story of a Canadian steam boat captain and a British missionary working in German East Africa during the First World War.
Also starring Katharine Hepburn, the movie won Bogart the 1951 Academy Award for best actor.
The steam boat came close to becoming a lost cause after the death of its previous owner in 2001, before it was spotted gathering rust in a Florida marina late last year by Suzanne Holmquist and her engineer husband, Lance.
Since recovering the piece of American cinematic history, the couple restored the ailing ship to full-strength and even opened it up to tourists and film enthusiasts, providing cruises around the Florida Keys aboard the famous vessel.
It's (the boat) held in a trust so we approached them and talked about restoring it, Holmquist told CNN, referring to how she stumbled upon the famous vessel.
We have a tall ship business that operates right next to where the African Queen was stationed in Key Largo. It was just wasting away so we offered to restore it and put it into our charter operation, she added.
According to Holmquist, African Queen (the boat) had a long life before hitting the big screen with Bogart and Hepburn.
Built in 1912 at Lytham Shipbuilding Yard in England, the vessel was originally named the Livingstone and served as a cargo vessel for the British East Africa Rail Company.
The vessel was used to transport a mixture of hunters, mercenaries and cargo, operating in the waters of the Ruki River in the northern Democratic Republic of Congo.
As the CNN article reports, it was in the early 1950's that the ship was spotted by John Huston, the director of the African Queen, who temporarily pulled the boat from service so it could be used in the movie.
After the movie struck as a hit, the vessel, which became a star in its own right, changed hands a number of times before eventually falling victim to a lonely jetty in southern Florida.
It was here that Suzanne Holmquist, herself a self-confessed Bogart and Hepburn buff, recognized the boat. Late last year she made an offer to the owners to put it back in working order.
It had big holes in it and was kind of like a sieve when it rained, all the water was just pouring
out. My husband has restored big boats before, some bigger than this one, so I knew that we could do it, she added.
The ensuing restoration project has been a detailed and thorough process taking fully six months to complete.
The historic vessel which provided the setting for Humphrey Bogart's only Oscar winning performance has been resurrected from the scrapheap by a movie-loving Florida couple.
The African Queen is a 100 year old steam boat famed for its starring role in the 1951 hit movie of the same name.
The classic picture - which also starred Katharine Hepburn and told the story of a Canadian steam boat captain and a British missionary working in German East Africa during the First World War
- saw Bogart receive the 1951 Academy Award for best actor.
After falling into a state of disrepair following the death of its previous owner in 2001, the vessel was spotted gathering rust in a Florida marina late last year by Suzanne Holmquist and her engineer husband, Lance.
The couple have since repaired the ailing ship and opened it up to tourists and film enthusiasts, providing cruises around the Florida Keys aboard the famous vessel.
The boat was held in a trust so we approached them and talked about restoring it," says
Holmquist on how she stumbled upon the famous vessel. "We have a tall ship business that operates right next to where the African Queen was stationed in Key Largo. It was just wasting away so we offered to restore it and put it into our charter operation," she adds.
Although most famed for its role alongside Bogart and
Hepburn, the African Queen had a long and colorful life before hitting the big screen, explains
Holmquist. Built in 1912 at Lytham Shipbuilding Yard in England, the vessel was originally named the Livingstone and served as a cargo vessel for the British East Africa Rail Company.
It spent most of its first 50 years operating in the waters of the Ruki River in the northern Democratic Republic of Congo where she was used to transport a mixture of hunters, mercenaries and cargo.
In the early 1950's the ship was spotted by the director of the African Queen, John Huston, and pulled temporarily from service so it could be used in the movie.
By the late 1960's however, the African Queen had swapped the big screen and the rural hinterland of the Congo for the concrete jungle of San Francisco. An American businessman transported the ship to the Golden Gate city where he hoped to harness its Hollywood fame to operate it as a tour boat.
This idea proved unsuccessful however and the vessel then changed hands a number of times before coming to the attention of Florida attorney and Humphrey Bogart enthusiast, Jim Hendricks Sr. in 1982.
Hendricks Sr. eagerly snapped up his very own chunk Bogart movie memorabilia which he owned until his death in 2001.
During this period Hendricks Sr. took the African Queen around the world, gracing flotillas that marked the 50th anniversary of the battle of Dunkirk in the English Channel and the Queen Mother's 90th birthday on the River Thames.
Once Hendricks Sr. passed away however, the vessel once more fell upon hard times, wasting away on a lonely jetty in southern Florida.
The African Queen is a 1951 adventure film adapted from the 1935 novel of the same name by C. S. Forester.The African Queen opened on December 23, 1951 in Los Angeles, in order to qualify for the 1951 Oscars, and on February 20, 1952 at the Capitol Theatre in New York City.
The film earned an estimated £256,267 at UK cinemas in 1952, making it the 11th most popular movie of the year. It earned an estimated $4 million at the US and Canadian box office. The film was directed by John Huston and produced by Sam Spiegel and John
Woolf. The screenplay was adapted by James Agee, John Huston, John Collier and Peter
Viertel. It was photographed in Technicolor by Jack Cardiff and had a music score by Allan Gray. The film stars Humphrey Bogart (who won the Academy Award for Best Actor – his only Oscar), and Katharine Hepburn with Robert Morley, Peter Bull, Walter
Gotell, Richard Marner and Theodore Bikel.
The African Queen has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 1994, with the Library of Congress deeming it "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant".
& SOUTHERN QUEEN HISTORIC BOAT RESTORATION CAMPAIGN - MEDIA REPORT
HERALD FEBRUARY 26 2014
The Southern Queen and William Allchorn were once a familiar sight sailing along the coast off Eastbourne to Beachy Head and back but in the last couple of years and due to the economic crisis, have fallen into a state of disrepair and are now moored on the beach near the lifeboat station.
The next plan is to obtain some form of charitable status so grants can be applied for and the long task of getting the boats back on the water can begin.
Time is starting to run out for these wonderful old ladies of the sea and Eastbourne is all set to lose yet another piece of its fantastic history and something that has been part of it for the last 65 years. We live in a throwaway society and are in danger in losing our values, identity and our history.
“Both boats were built locally. It’s so important we save these beautiful craft for future generations.
The William Allchorn was a purpose built pleasure boat, commissioned by the Allchorn Brothers of Newhaven, in 1950 and funded by the Ministry of Defence Compensation Fund as recompense for Enchantress, which was lost during the Dunkirk evacuation.
Foster and Lloyd Stebbings pictured in front of the William Allchorn and
Southern Queen boats that so badly need attention. This is a very rare opportunity to help or become part of a restoration project to return the boats to the sea and restore some of Eastbourne’s pride as a top UK holiday resort.
“We understand this is a long term project but we need to be able to buy and store these boats soon before they get sold as projects and wind up rotting on that mud berth from hell.”
The boats’ owner Jason Foster together with mariners Lloyd Stebbings and Daniel Goldsmith are trying to save the boats and the campaign is gathering momentum with support from Eastbourne Borough Council, other local authorities and marine and historic organisations.
Lloyd, who lives in Pevensey Bay and runs Pevensey Bay Marine, said, “One big mistake that we are about to make is to let the Southern Queen and the William Allchorn pleasure boats decay and die on the beach in Eastbourne."
The Southern Queen was built in a barn at Westham Village not far from Pevensey Castle and taken almost two miles by road to her launching site in Norman’s Bay.
Lloyd is quoted as saying: “Time is getting short now and a year or so down the road they will become so much fire wood and yet more local history will go up in smoke and be lost for ever."
Nearly all of the fixtures and fittings including life rafts, some of which are handmade and are dated 1921, all the masts and rigging are still in existence, in good condition undercover and in one place near the boats but maybe not for much longer.
Long term these boats would need to earn the own keep and pay their own way for their survival so, the initial thought is to run day shopping trips’ from Eastbourne to Brighton weather permitting and day cruises to the Isle of Wight and back through the summer months.
middle aged and mature residents of Eastbourne will remember these pleasure
boats plying a passage from Eastbourne Pier to the Lighthouse and back on
sunny summer days.
NEWS 26 FEBRUARY 2014
A campaign to raise £500,000 has been launched to save the remains of the last two pleasure boats of a 200-year-old industry in Eastbourne.
The Southern Queen and William Allchorn have not run for a number of years because of vandalism and the recession.
The boats, which had taken tourists on trips to Beachy Head lighthouse since the 1950s, are rotting on the beach.
Boat enthusiast Lloyd Stebbings wants to raise £15,000 to buy them with the rest needed for restoration.
Mr Stebbings, who runs Pevensey Bay marina, said in the industry's heyday there were 113 pleasure boat licences issued in Eastbourne.
He said: "At one point the pleasure boats were moored along the coast from the Redoubt Fortress to the Wish Tower."
"These are the last two remaining and they represent 200 years of pleasure boat history in Eastbourne."
He said the Southern Queen was completed in 1950 and used to take visitors around the lighthouse with her sister vessel, the Eastbourne Queen.
The William Allchorn was a purpose-built pleasure boat, commissioned by the Allchorn Brothers of Newhaven in 1950, and funded by the Ministry of Defence.
Both boats have many of the original fixtures and fittings including life rafts and masts and rigging.
Mr Stebbings intends to set up a charitable trust and is appealing for private donations as well as corporate sponsorship.
He said he has had almost a dozen people come forward offering to volunteer to help restore the boats.
"This is a very rare opportunity to help or become part of a restoration project to return the boats to the sea and restore some of Eastbourne's pride as a top UK holiday resort," he added.
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