December 12 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
The owners of the Lady Florence, the cruise/restaurant vessel which operates on the rivers Ore and Alde, are to launch a second business in Suffolk.
John and Susan Haresnape, who have been operating the Lady Florence from Orford Quay for more than 20 years, are to begin running similar cruises on the River Orwell in time for the pre-Christmas market, in partnership with her son, Craig Ambury.
They have been operating two boats for the past 11 years, with Craig having been running harbour tours in Durban, South Africa, since 2002.
Now, however, they have decided to relocate the second vessel, the Allen Gardiner, to the UK where it will operate on the River Orwell from Ipswich Marina.
“Despite walking away from a successful Allen Gardiner brand established and built since 2002, the reversal of the 2002 decision is a daring but wise and logical one,” said Mr Haresnape who, with his wife, Susan, acquired the Lady Florence in 1992.
“It will result in a doubling of turnover and employment opportunities in Suffolk in the short term.”
The Allen Gardiner, which is 63 feet long and can carry up to 45 passengers, was built in 1942 by the Miami Shipbuilding Corporation in Florida as one of 20 similar boats ordered by the South African Air Force for use as air/sea rescue launches.
The vessel was hoisted on to a specially built cradle on September 6 to enable it to be lifted on to a cargo ship, MAC Lines’ Blue Master II, although adverse weather and sea conditions meant it was not loaded until September 19, the day before the ship sailed.
“This continent-moving project has even wider repercussions in terms of change management compared with the 2002 decision to go international. The family business has consolidated in Suffolk 21,” said Mr Haresnape.
“It will prove to be a simpler, more economical operation, with hands-on control on a daily basis, the combined business will be more efficient and increase purchasing power and employment in Suffolk.
“It is an extremely expensive step for a small business, but we are confident of its success. It is thanks to Foundation East and NWES that the project is financially viable.”
Mr Haresnape continued: “The thousands of satisfied Lady Florence customers over the years will now have an opportunity to explore another, and totally different, river environment, with the same standard of cuisine and excellence to which they have become accustomed. It will also open up opportunities for groups much larger than the licence for 12 on Lady Florence, and also the facility to operate after dark on the lighted buoyed channel of the River Orwell.”
And he added: “There are many stages to this project before the Allen Gardiner becomes operational on her maiden voyage on the River Orwell from Ipswich Marina, which we anticipate will be in November in time for Christmas celebrations,”
The Allen Gardiner is named after Captain Allen F Gardiner, a former Royal Navy captain who went to South Africa is a missionary in 1835 and later called the first public meeting which led to the formation of the new township of D’Urban, now Durban, named after Sir Benjamin D’Urban, then governor of the Cape.
The Lady Florance, which is 50 feet long, is an ex-Admiralty motor fishing vessel built at Poole in 1955. Originally known as MFV 766, she was named by Geoffrey Ingram Smith of Woodbridge who set up the river cruise business at Orford in 1984. He sold the business to John and Susan Haresnape in 1992.