Norah Docker’s yacht, Shemara, has found a saviour in Charles Dunstone
When spendaholics Sir Bernard and Lady Docker took ownership of a 65-metre yacht, the Shemara, in the 1950s, little did they know that it would ultimately become part of their nemesis. The very same boat – after languishing for many years – has now been fully restored and is now in the ownership of the telecommunications titan Sir Charles Dunstone.
Launched in Southampton in 1938, the Shemara was built by Thorneycroft and subsequently commandeered for us as an anti-submarine training ship by the Royal Navy during the Second World War.
After buying the Shemara, the “gracelessly gaudy” Dockers used it for many a lavish party and their guests ranged from King Farouk of Egypt to 45 miners from Yorkshire. During their visit Lady Docker danced for them and afterwards told the press: “We had a riotous day”.
The Shemara was indeed an extravagance and cost the couple an extraordinary £250 per week to maintain at a time when the average wage for men was just £2 per week. Sadly, though, for champagne loving Lady Docker, her days on the Shemara came to an end in 1965 when her husband – ousted from the board of Daimler because of his excessive overuse of company funds for his and his wife’s pleasure – was forced to put the vessel up for sale for £600,000 as his wealth subsided.
Ultimately the desperate Dockers sold the Shemara for just £290,000 to the reclusive property tycoon Harry Hyams. The Centre Point developer used the Shemara on a number of Mediterranean cruises but largely left it languishing in Lowestoft. His crew were said to prepare lunch everyday in case he arrived but he rarely did. Amongst those that subsequently chartered it were the crooked media proprietor Robert Maxwell and in 1970, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor considered buying the boat.
Last refitted in 1992, the Shemara was sold to Sir Charles Dunstone circa 2011 and in 2013 a large-scale refurbishment and refit began on the vessel under the direction of Trimline Superyacht Interiors. Completed earlier this year, the Shemara has once again been returned to her former glory.
Now the pride of sailing aficionado Dunstone’s fleet, the Shemara is once again resplendent. Though Sir Bernard and Lady Docker would be proud of its new look, we somehow doubt the “Chipping Norton set” member and billionaire Dunstone will be following their lead and inviting any miners onboard.
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