Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Village unveils blue plaque for pioneering boatbuilder

MORE than 150 residents turned out to celebrate Goring being awarded its first blue plaque.

MORE than 150 residents turned out to celebrate Goring being awarded its first blue plaque.

The sign, commemorating marine engineer Sam Saunders, was installed in High Street on Saturday.

It was affixed to the Royal Mail sorting office by the bridge, which was once one of Mr Saunders’ workshops.

Mr Saunders developed the Consuta method of building waterproof boats while living in the village in 1899.

The plaque was unveiled by historian Ray Wheeler, who has written two books about the engineer. He was accompanied by Janet and Mike Hurst, of the Goring and Streatley Local History Society, who have researched Mr Saunders’ life and applied for the plaque to be installed.

The couple set up a display about him in the village hall while members of Goring Women’s Institute served tea and cakes.

Also present was Tony Hobbs, director of boating firm Hobbs of Henley.

There was a parade of boats on the river featuring Consuta, the steam-powered umpire’s launch that Mr Saunders built for Leander Club in Henley, and Mythical Maid, which he built using the Consuta method in 1901 and is now owned by Peter Sutcliffe, from Gloucestershire.

They were joined by steam launch Enchantress, which Hobbs built in 1913 at Mr Saunders’ old South Stoke site, now Withymead.

Mrs Hurst, of Nun’s Acre, Goring, said: “It was a lovely day. We’re so pleased that Samuel Saunders finally has a plaque because a lot of people who live here don’t know anything about him.

“He was very much part of the Goring community and made boats that are still on the river today.” Her husband said: “We couldn’t have done it without the support of Tony Hobbs and we are extremely grateful to him. He allowed us to use his building, took my volunteers on river trips and even swept up outside the sorting office the day before.”

Mr Saunders was born in Streatley in 1857 and set up shop in Goring in 1886. He was a parish councillor and a warden at St Thomas’ Church. He helped to found the original Goring and Streatley Regatta, which ran from 1888 to 1914.

After his death in 1933, his firm went on to become ship and aircraft manufacturer Saunders-Roe.

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