Arthur Beale Yacht Chandler Shaftesbury Avenue

194 Shaftesbury Avenue, London

11th May 2014

I haven’t updated the Sumara blog for a while because I have been rather busy. Well it is always busy getting Sumara ready to go back in the water but this year something has made it double busy. Gerry and I seem to have bought Arthur Beale Ltd, a 400 year old yacht chandler based slap bang wallop in the middle of London’s West End. To be honest it was the last thing on our minds as we both had plenty on our plates but when we found out that it was really struggling, it was obvious that if we didn’t act quickly the wonderful shop would be lost to all.

Some of the old shelves upstairs at Arthur Beales - wonderful stuff!
Some of the old shelves upstairs at Arthur Beales – wonderful stuff!

Arthur Beale supplied the rope for the early attempts on Everest. They supplied Shackleton too. In fact they were major suppliers of climbing gear such as rucksacks, ice axes and slings. It wasn’t just yachts. The history is quite fantastic. The five floors are littered with old ledgers, printing blocks for ancient catalogues and even stock that must be hundreds of years old.

Old Ledgers showing supplies to the British Arctic Expeditions in Greenland.
Old Ledgers showing supplies to the British Arctic Expeditions in Greenland.

Of course we sought advise. They all said “No, don’t do it”. We tried to get more people involved but most people felt it was too risky but Gerry and I just thought it needs to be saved, and there was a remote chance that we were the people to do it. So the last couple of months have been hectic! The poor shop had been selling off stock but without funds to replenish. It had become rather sad. We have managed to get a lot of the stock replenished and are now opening longer hours. The place is already getting busier but there is a long way to go.

Hardware Heaven - Arthur Beales has massive stocks of marine hardware.
Hardware Heaven – Arthur Beale has massive stocks of marine hardware.

As the timing wasn’t really our choice we haven’t all managed to sit down and work out the master plan but we are all keen to keep the charm of the place and to try to re-establish it as a serious place to visit to buy chandlery. I expect you can imagine the kinds of things I would like to stock!

Old sacks - but what is in them? What a voyage of discovery this place is!
Old sacks – but what is in them? What a voyage of discovery this place is!

It is all work in progress but if you are in the West End it would be great to see you. I tend to work in the shop from mid-afternoon until 20:00 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. If you are around this Saturday after 15:00 we will be celebrating Norway Day with a free glass of Aquavit!

Latest update 2022

I’m no longer involved with Arthur Beale. See the update here.

13 responses to “Arthur Beale Yacht Chandler Shaftesbury Avenue”

  1. Funnily enough I was just walking passed Arthur Beales on my way back from the British Museum’s Viking exhibition and was delighted to see the shop still there. I might try to pop in Saturday – also to hear about Jan Mayen (was hoping to go there this year but looking a bit iffy now).

    Glad to hear someone is looking after Beales and good luck with its future!

  2. Alastair Wilson avatar
    Alastair Wilson

    Visited Arthur Beale’s seeking some bits and pieces for my 1925 yawl Paola. I used to be a reasonably regular back in 1970’s and again when I was back from Oveseas in 1990’s. I am south coast based where we have lots of new kit chandlers but have to look to Daveys, Toplicht and Classic Marine for the authentic bits either off shelf or in case of Classic Marine on occasions bespoke. Many times online is useful but you also want to touch and feel. Tried to find you a month ago on way between Covent Garden and British Museum. Above blog was helpful and maybe if sent as link to the “intheboatshed” website would give further coverage as I picked up you were still around in Classic Boat. Good Luck I will be back once I know you have restocked further.

    1. Hi Alastair,

      Funny you should mention Davey and Co because I spent a fascinating there yesterday with Peter. I could have spent all day rummaging around their wonderful stock. We will be stocking a range of their products very soon. The big problem is that we would love to stock everything! Please call back in when you are next up in town. You will definitely see more stock and maybe the upstairs will have been renovated by then. They are beautiful rooms we hope to fill with books, navigational instruments and clothing. Love your boat by the way!


  3. Alastair Wilson avatar
    Alastair Wilson

    Hi Alasdair
    Thanks for your reply which I have only just seen as for some reason no notification appeared in my email. I expect to in London middle of next week for will call in to buy a second multiple hangar to match the one I bought last time. Probably a little early for your restocking mentioned. I have just read your main website and will contact you on the email shown particularly re the Boulogne trip. We must have passed somewhere if you have seen my yawl Paola.
    Best rgds

  4. Andrew Craig-Bennett avatar
    Andrew Craig-Bennett

    Just got a text from my friend Jerry Sousa, visiting from HK, which read “I am in BEALES!”

    Wonderful news! Good luck and strength to your arms, gentlemen.

  5. I am doing research in to the Men & Women who made the tools that made the sails for the ships on the London river ( and further afield0. I have just pulled out of our collection a shackle key with Arthur Beale cast into it, so now you are on the list of companies that need to be researched . PLEASE make sure that the ledgers are preserved , I have found plenty of evidence from some of Daveys Old Ledgers and I suspect that yours will collaborate and give me more insights.
    Des Pawson
    Museum of Knots & Sailor’s Ropework Ipswich

    1. Hi Des,
      Great to hear from you! We stock lots of your fine books and they are very popular. Don’t worry about the Arthur Beale ledgers and things, nothing will be thrown out unless we are sure it is genuine junk. We haven’t had time to explore all the cupboards and old crates but we are coming across all sorts of fascinating things, some of which are a mystery to us. You would be very welcome to come at any time and have a look around. It would also be really good it we could persuade you to do a talk one evening?
      Best regards,

  6. Sue and Ed Bowness avatar
    Sue and Ed Bowness

    Hi Alasdair,

    We chatted to Norman at GYC last night, who told us about Tom Cunliffe coming on the 3rd October. We would both like to come to and see the shop, thanks.



  7. Hilary Vernon-Smith avatar
    Hilary Vernon-Smith

    I am so pleased to hear that Arthur Beale is still in existence. I used to shop there a lot in the 70s and 80s when i was working in the Covent Garden area as a theatre prop maker and scenic artist.t was a great source of ropes and fittings which could not easily be found elsewhere.We often used the packets of non-slip powder, designed for the decks of yachts, mixed with glaze to make our set floors less slippery if water was used on stage.

  8. I saw mention of you in this month’s Classic Boat. Perhaps you would like to visit St Katherine Docks this week, where we are for the Thames Festival. It’s full of classic yachts and motor boats for the weekend. I shall be very interested to see how you bring Beales along. It is many years since I was there.

  9. Hi Sue and Ed, I’ll get you on the list. It is getting rather full! Sorry about the slow reply – the junk filters are very strong!
    Best regards,


  10. Hi Hilary, Great to hear from you. Sorry about the slow response. We still have plenty of non-slip powder plus loads of new gear. Do come up and say hello. I’m normally in the shop on Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoons.
    Best regards, Alasdair

  11. Hi James,

    Really sorry about the slow response meaning we didn’t meet up at St Katharine Docks but I hope you managed to see our little stall there. I’m going along to the Berth Holders Meeting on 30th September on Lady Daphne. I’m not sure if you are a berth holder but if so maybe we can meet there.

    best regards,


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