Appledore’s Richmond dry dock will become home to a wartime German E boat and other historic vessels after it was sold to military collector Kevin Wheatcroft.
The multi-millionaire is a living history expert and owner of the Wheatcroft Collection, one of the world’s largest private collections of Second World War memorabilia that includes many German vehicles plus those from other nations.
Mr Wheatcroft intends to use the dry dock at Appledore to store historic vessels including S-130, the German Schenell-Boote or S boat that served in the war as well as a captured British prize and part of NATO forces until the 1980s.
The dock was sold by commercial property consultant Kevin Underwood, jointly with local agents Morris and Bott, with an original guide price of £1.2million.
Mr Wheatcroft said: “After we discovered Richmond dry dock and initial talks with local authorities and Historic England, we outlined our plans for the dock as a working home for some of The Wheatcroft Collection’s historic boats, so returning the dry dock to its original intended use.”
“Richmond dry dock is a listed property we want to preserve and use as a base. In our collection there is a Dunkirk little ship, an ex-gun boat and a 1920s gentleman’s day yacht.
“We would like to run this for the preservation of those craft, not as a working dock.”
Mr Wheatcroft owns the famous Donington Park estate and the Wheatcroft Collection is well known in military history circles, containing many German vehicles including Panther and Tiger tanks.
Speaking of his plans for the Appledore site, he said: “Obviously, we’re very much in the infancy of our project.
“Our aim now is to clear the site of the detritus left by the previous owners and make it safe and presentable for those whose homes overlook it, so really it’s watch this space.
“It’s about what we can do in working with the local community in preserving this historic dry dock, which I have to say, are very hard to find.”
The S boat S-130 served during the war before being taken into the Royal Navy until it was returned to Germany in 1957, serving as part of NATO forces until in 1991 it became a houseboat. Mr Wheatcroft purchased it in 2009.