Dan Steele

Photographic Colourist

MGB 116 launch at British Power Boat Co, Hythe

When browsing the IWM digital archives, I found this wonderful Lowry like scene taken by the official Royal Navy photographer Lt. L.C. Priest. It shows a freshly completed 71.5ft British Power Boat MkV MGB (pennant 116) about to be launched at the British Power Boat Company yard in Hythe, Hampshire.

LAUNCHING ANOTHER MOTOR GUN BOAT. 18 FEBRUARY 1943, HYTHE, SOUTHAMPTON. (A 14597) A general view of the launching ceremony. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205147745

I was drawn to the image as I grew up in the village of Hythe and hadn’t, until fairly recently, realised that these boats were produced there. It’s surprising to see how many people they had working there, men and women alike.

The camouflage on the buildings was intriguing and I wasn’t sure what colour they might be. Fortunately, I found a painting made two years prior in 1941 by Admiralty Richard Ernst Eurich, which shows the pattern as it’s likely to have looked at the time.

I took colour cues from this contemporary painting of the boat yard. © Crown copyright. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. Presented by the War Artists Advisory Committee 1947 https://www.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/rmgc-object-13056

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