Many will know the epic film Lawrence of Arabia which won seven Oscars in 1962. Peter O’Toole played a British officer credited with leading the Arab revolt against the Turks in World War One. The film was based on TE Lawrence’s book ‘The Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ published in 1926.

Less well known are Lawrence’s connections to our area. The 5-year-old Lawrence, nicknamed ‘Ned’ by his family, moved locally in 1894. The family spent three summers living at the isolated Langley Lodge, on the edge of the New Forest. The house has since been demolished.

Lawrence went sailing with his father on Southampton Water. However, he later confessed to a Royal Navy lieutenant, “I will never be a sailor, I’m afraid: born too late, though my father had yachts and used to take me with him from my fourth year: but my attempted accomplishment is motor-boating, a very different art, and as difficult.”

He returned to the area from India in 1929, as a clerk assisting Wing Commander Sydney Smith to organise the prestigious Schneider Trophy race for seaplanes and flying boats. It took place in September off Calshot, at the southern end of Southampton Water.

The Schneider Trophy race was staged eleven times between 1913 and 1931. Calshot hosted the race for the first time in 1929 and again in 1931. This was the last time the event took place.

Daily Echo: Lawrence and Hubert Scott-Paine the aircraft and boat designer who ran British Powerboats

Lawrence spent much of the duration of the 1929 race living aboard a yacht, Karen. As a thank you for his help, he was given a model of the winning Supermarine S6 seaplane. It can be seen at Clouds Hill in Dorset, his home at the time of his death from a motorcycle accident. Always a lover of speed, he was estimated to be travelling at nearly 100 mph.

It was also at Calshot that Lawrence and Sydney Smith were presented with a tender, a Biscayne Baby speedboat, which they renamed Biscuit.

Today, Lawrence’s association with Calshot is marked by a red plaque on the wall of Lawrence House, one of the buildings that now forms part of the Calshot Activities Centre located on Calshot Spit.

Daily Echo: Preserved powerboat 102 in Portsmouth

Driving the Biscuit around Plymouth Sound and up the Tamar estuary gave Lawrence experience in fast-powered craft. After seeing the fatal crash of a Blackburn Iris III flying boat in Plymouth Sound in February 1931, much of the remainder of his service years were spent assisting in the development of high-speed rescue craft for the RAF.

In 1931-1932, he was posted to Hythe where Hubert Scott-Paine had begun building hard-chine planing hulls at the British Power Boat Company. Here, Lawrence oversaw the construction and trials of powerboats for the RAF.

During most of this time, Lawrence lodged at Myrtle Cottage in Shore Road, Hythe, where a blue plaque records his stay. He was paid 3 shillings and 9 pence per day.

Daily Echo: Plaque on Myrtle Cottage in Shore Road, Hythe

In early 1933 he was based briefly at White’s shipyard in East Cowes, where he lodged at 119 Clarence Road.

In July 1933, he took lodgings at 13 Birmingham Street, Southampton. This became his base for much of the next 18 months. The house no longer stands as it ran by the former bus station. The Marlands shopping centre is now on the site.

Lawrence often travelled to other parts of England; sometimes by power boat or train, but usually on his fast Brough Superior motorcycle.

Daily Echo: Lawrence of Arabia film poster

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is where HSL 102 is berthed. Inspired by Aircraftsman TE Shaw, better known as Lawrence of Arabia, it was built by Hubert Scott-Paine’s British Power Boat Company in 1936. It was capable of 40 knots and is the only survivor of the 100 class of high-speed launches built in the UK.

Even though this particular class was not worked on by Lawrence, the boat contained many design features and developments made possible by the 200 class he worked on.

Daily Echo: SeeSouthampton logo

Martin Brisland is a tour guide with .