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Michael Greig & The Post Boat

14 February 2019

Built in Porthleven in 1961, commissioned by the Post Office, the Mount Post Boat was the official transport of all the mail to and from the island. Find out more about its past life and its recent restorations by Falmouth Marine School

Could you please tell us a little bit about the history of the post boat?

The Post Boat was named Susan, after a member of the St Aubyn family.

When was it built?

She was built in 1961 in Porthleven by Oliver’s Boatbuilders. It was commissioned and paid for by the Post Office to provide a means of transporting the post to and from St Michael’s Mount to Marazion. It is a West Country harbour boat – “punt”, suitable for one to three people to row.

Before this time there were two boats – for summer and winter.

When was it used?

It was used twice daily - six days a week and was dependent on the weather. The first post run to Marazion Post office was at 0700. The island Post Man, who was partly employed by the Post Office and St Aubyn Estate, would row the boat to Gwelva landing, which is situated directly below what was the Post Office. In those days the Post Man was also the Harbour Master, Church Warden and responsible for chopping kindling for every fireplace in the castle. During this time it was a man named John Mathews.

Royal Mail delivery to St Michael's Mount by boat
Len Ritchie, Associated Postman

Associated postman Len Ritchie, who lived on the island. Circa 1988-1989.

What was it used for and how often?

People also rowed it for pleasure. Island residents used it and guests staying in the castle would take it out for a row from time to time. She was also used as a tender to row out to other boats in the harbour.

When was it decommissioned?

Strictly speaking, she has never officially been decommissioned! Sometime in the 1990s the decision was made for the post to be delivered by a post van when the tide was out, so there was no need for the post boat to be used for that purpose.

Are there any fun facts about the Post Boat?

She was used in the filming of King Arthur on St Michael’s Mount. For a particular scene, one of the Mount Boatman was asked to row the Post Boat across the harbour shrouded in smoke.

What was the motivation to have the boat restored?

The boat is an iconic part of St Michael’s Mount harbour and deserved to be restored to its former standard.

Who did the restoration?

Falmouth Marine School

Post Boat Restoration
License

What was the process of the restoration?

She needed a complete overhaul and provided a fantastic project for the students. She is of wooden, clinker construction and various sections needed replacing, including parts of the keel and transom (the back of the boat). Also, five of the curved planks (clinkers) running laterally along the boat were partially rotted and needed replacing. This process involves heating the planks up in steam, increasing flexibility and allowing the boat builder to bend the plank to fit the shape of the hull.

Where can we see it now?

The Post Boat can be seen moored just off the wharf at the top of the harbour at St Michael’s Mount, next to our two rowing barges. 

Mike Greig, Head Boatman