The Arvon Bell

The Arvon Bell

The History of the Arvon Bell

The ‘Arvon’ was T.G.M. Snagge’s old yacht. He presented the bell to the John Lewis Partnership Sailing Club when he was Commodore in the 1950’s. “It was always on the top table when the annual ‘Evening Dress’ dinner was held at Peter Jones”, John Draper, Admiral and archivist tells me. Furthermore Geoffrey Snagge, as he was known, not only gifted this bell but also donated his buoy on the Beaulieu River to the club and that buoy is used regularly by club members today. 


Once various central functions moved from Oxford Street in the early 1990’s the Arvon Bell went to Odney at the suggestion of another Commodore, Robert Fraser, who was the Odney Manager.  In the most recent years to 2016 it sat on its stand on the bar in the Sir Bernard Miller Centre. It now resides in the JLP Heritage Center at Odney.

As to the question what was Arvon, I have done a little research and the yacht Arvon was built in 1884 by Stow and Son, boat builders in Shoreham by Sea. Lloyd’s Register of Yachts, published annually back then, reveals that she is a 

“Cutter, wood. 5.10 tons, L 25.8, b 8.7, d 6.1. Replacement sails by Hoopel 1899.Owner Thomas Goode – home port London.

1947 Register – Owner T.G.M.Snagge and he owned it through to 1957

The Arvon is still sailing and in 2014 was restored by its current owner, Detlef Staats, in Germany. The restoration won first prize in the 2013 Restoration Awards at the German Classic Yacht Club –

TPJ    September 2019

Comments about this page

  • Dear Detlef
    Thank you for reply and congratulations for next year’s 140 anniversary. We are delighted that she is the oldest yacht in Germany!
    We have found an old photo of the Arvon taken at the 1953 Coronation Spithead Naval Review. It is rather grainy but reflects the quality of amateur photography back in the 1950’s.
    Best Regards

    By JLPSC Archive (29/08/2023)
  • Dear Ladies and Gentlemans,
    thank you very much for the detailed reply to my letter. I thought this bell wasn’t from Arvon. But it is still very nice to learn more about the history of this really very old sailboat. Next year Arvon is 140 years old, she is the oldest yacht in Germany. I would be interested to know if there are still photos or pictures of Arvon in your Archive.I also tried to get in touch with the Snagge family and the later owner Biddlecombe. Unfortunately without success. It is very difficult to get information about such an old boat, but I am always very happy when I find something in the www. Maybe you will find something in your archive.
    Best regards from Detlef Staats

    By Detlef Staats (25/08/2023)
  • Dear Detlef Staats

    How nice to hear from you.
    Firstly a huge compliment on your restoration of The Arvon – she looks splendid and must have taken a huge amount of work; well done!

    As to Geoffrey Snagge, who owned the boat from about 1947 to 1957, he became our first Commodore in 1951 when the John Lewis Partnership Sailing Club was formed.
    As a gesture toward the club he commissioned a ship’s bell with the name of his yacht, ‘Arvon’ engraved on one side with RYS (Royal Yacht Squadron) below and on the other side “Presented to the JLPSC by T. G. M. Snagge D.S.C, Commodore 1951-1962”.

    Historically ships bells were used to ring the watches on large vessels so it could be heard around the vessel. His yacht, The Arvon, a much more modest vessel, would not have ever needed or had a ship’s bell. This bell was never part of the yacht.

    The bell was used at club meetings to call order and at other sailing club events like dinners and the like.

    The bell is now part of the Heritage collection of the John Lewis Partnership and actually on display here in Cookham.

    And warm greetings also to you.

    By JLPSC Archive (24/08/2023)
  • Ladies and gentlemen, I have been the owner of Arvon for 31 years. I am overwhelmed to see that the bell of Arvon still exists! I am trying to bring all original items belonging to Arvon back to her. They would make Arvon and me very happy if they could help us. I also found a photo on your page showing Arvon. I am very happy about this discovery right now. Warm Greetings From Detlef Staats

    By Detlef Staats (19/08/2023)

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