Rosabelle, the sturdy motor launch used by renowned marine photographer, Frank Beken, has been given a free berth by the Cowes Waterfront Trust, just in time for the Royal Yacht Squadron Bicentenary International Regatta (25th-31st July).
Jon Pridham, managing director of Cowes Yacht Haven, said:
“We were honoured to offer Rosabelle a free berth. The marina here has been a part of the Isle of Wight’s history for hundreds of years so it was only right to welcome another crucial part of the Island’s past to our marina.”
Frank Beken spent 20 years on Rosabelle taking photos of beautiful yachts and races, a skill that required exact timing. Throughout the 1920s and 30s Beken used the motor launch to get to the best viewpoint of all the races and regattas in the waters around the Isle of Wight.
When Frank’s photographer son, Keith, and grandson Ken donated Rosabelle to the Classic Boat Museum in 2004, she needed great repair and even had a small tree growing in the bottom of the boat. Volunteers at the museum removed and replaced all the rotten wood and restored Rosabelle to her original glory in 2008, ready now to be displayed in Cowes Yacht Haven to the 130,000 visitors that pass through the marina every year.
The Classic Boat Museum plans to repeat history by taking Rosabelle out for the Royal Yacht Squadron Bicentenary Regatta, to be amongst the very same boats she helped Frank Beken photograph over 60 years ago.
Rosemary Joy, director of the Classic Boat Museum, said:
“We’re so very grateful to the Cowes Waterfront Trust and Cowes Yacht Haven for providing a free berth for Rosabelle. The location will showcase the hard work of the Classic Boat Museum and display our Island’s nautical history to a whole new audience, as well as putting Rosabelle back amongst the boats that she belongs with”.
Yachtsmen from around the world come to see the historical photographs taken by Frank Beken on his specially designed maritime camera. Early photographs signed by Beken & Son have fetched £1,000 at auction. The award winning Classic Boat Museum was granted Arts Council Accredited Museum Status in 2013 for its high standards of professionalism and conservation.