At the top end of London’s Shaftesbury Avenue there has existed, for the past 125 years, and elsewhere for 400 years altogether as a maker and supplier of rope, the yacht chandlery Arthur Beale Ltd. It has somehow survived into 2014 with no online presence, and no facility for ordering and supplying by post. To buy something from them you had to walk in, pay your money, and walk out with it.
Well that approach finally proved untenable earlier this year, and the business was about to close down; but in the nick of time it was rescued by business partners Alasdair Flint and Gerry Jeatt. Alasdair already runs a theatrical chandlery in London, which also supplies sailors, and even more germane to the story, he is an accomplished high latitude sailor in his beautiful 25ft timber Vertue sloop Sumara.
Long story short: in a brief frenzy of activity the first floor was spruced up, and shelves installed for books (including all of ours), an online shop is being created, a newsletter is now published, and a relaunch ‘do’ was held the week before last, with Tom Cunliffe as guest speaker, giving us all a hilarious account of chandleries in his long experience of them.
Arthur Beale also hosts monthly talks, with one last week by Alasdair himself, on the Tilman Medal-winning voyage to Jan Mayen Island, 300 miles to the north-east of Iceland, made by his vessel and another, their joint climb of the active volcano Beerenberg (2,277m, 7,470ft) and safe return home, accompanied by some stunning photos and video footage. Through a moment of weakness I have signed up to give an illustrated talk on “The World of Albert Strange” (in whose fan club I am implicated) on 6 November [It went off OK—Ed]. Bob Comlay, one of the few to have sailed twice with H W Tilman to the Arctic, will recount those experiences on 4 December with his own wonderful collection of photos.
One way and another, Arthur Beale is rapidly becoming the ‘go-to’ place in London for the traditionally-minded sailor; the business has tremendous potential, and we wish it the success it richly deserves.