Britannia – a rather special yacht

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Britannia winning the Royal Clyde Yacht Club’s Queen’s Cup, Firth of Clyde, July 1894.
(Martin Black collection)

Probably G.L. Watson’s most famous and successful design, the cutter yacht Britannia was launched 20 April 1893 at D.&W. Henderson’s Meadowside Shipyard, Partick, Glasgow.

It’s where the River Kelvin meets the River Clyde, opposite the present day Riverside Museum. She was designed by Watson for the Prince of Wales, and was to become one of the all time most famous and successful racing yachts.

We chose this photograph by Adamson of Rothesay for the dust jacket of Martin Black’s biography, G.L. WATSON – THE ART AND SCIENCE OF YACHT DESIGN. It’s an image that seems to sum up the grace and efficiency of this rather special yacht as she glides over the waters of her birth with the minimum of fuss – along the way beating an American visitor to the Clyde Fortnight, the previous autumn’s America’s Cup defender, Vigilant, designed Nathanael Herreshoff.

www.peggybawnpress.com

~ Iain McAllister ~

Posted in America's Cup, Big Class, boatbuilders, Britannia, Clyde yachting, Clydebuilt, G.L. Watson, G.L. Watson clients, Glasgow, object of desire, other yacht designers, ship launch, shipbuilding, shipyards, yacht design, yachting history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Peggy, of Casteltown: the world’s oldest yacht?

Peggy of Castletown levitates. (ddggdg)

Peggy levitates.
(IOM Today)

It was an emotional moment this week when Peggy, probably the world’s oldest yacht – born 1789 – departed her boathouse at Castletown on the Isle of Man for the first time in c200 years – vertically, instead of horizontally. She’s moving to a more suitable site for essential conservation work.

The full video of the lift out is here.

Thanks for heads-up to Afloat Magazine, where W.M. “Winkie” Nixon has been a longtime Peggy fan and evangelist.

Her National Historic Ships UK Register entry is here.

And her excellent conservation blog is here.

Isn’t she beautiful.

~ Iain McAllister ~

www.peggybawnpress.com

 

Posted in boatbuilders, journalists, object of desire, other yacht designers, Sail and oar, yacht design, yachting history | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Peggy Bawn Press website

Pleased to report that everything is back to normal with the Peggy Bawn Press web site http://www.peggybawnpress.com/. Thanks for your messages of support. You can now return to purchasing our lovely books there! And don’t forget the many other possibilities listed here:

https://peggybawn.wordpress.com/2013/12/10/how-to-buy-our-books/

Fair winds,

Iain McAllister

PEGGY BAWN PRESS

 

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ALOFT: Pre-War Summer, 1939

The most recent episode in Alastair Gordon’s eloquent retracing of his father’s pre-second word war life in Scotland.

We enter a carefree summer of sailing beautiful home-grown yachts on the Firth of Clyde – the Gareloch in particular – and the west coast of Scotland; the last such summer for a long time, even forever. Read here.

 

Aloft - Alastair Gordon

~ Iain McAllister ~

www.peggybawnpress.com

Posted in boatbuilders, boatyards, Clyde yachting, Clydebuilt, Firth of Clyde, Glasgow, other yacht designers, photography, yachting history | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sensuous and mental joys

Ian Nicolson with GLWTAOYD at Cove & Kilcreggan Book Festival November2014 (Rona Grierson / Lochside Press)

Ian Nicolson with G.L. Watson – The Art and Science of Yacht Design at Cove & Kilcreggan Book Festival, November2014.
(Tom Watt / The Lochside Press)

It’s pleasing to hear about yacht designer, surveyor, sailmaker, yachtsman, paragon of octogenarian health and prolific author of really useful yachting books, Ian Nicolson, rubbing shoulders with fellow media and literary ‘heavyweights’, Sally Magnusson, James Robertson and Kirsty Wark, at the recent  Cove & Kilcreggan Book Festival, Argyll, Scotland. And great to see Ian holding forth with Martin Black’s G.L. Watson – The Art and Science of Yacht Design tucked under his arm.

After apprenticeship in England with Poole-based yacht designer and builder, Frederick R. Parker, gaining experience with Thornycrofts and working for Thorton Grenfell in Canada, Ian joined Alfred Mylne & Co. in 1959, eventually taking over the famous Glasgow design office on the death of the 2nd Alfred Mylne, nephew of the firm’s founder who had shocked his mentor, G.L. Watson, in going it alone in 1896.

Amongst his varied day work – he has never really retired – Ian has somehow found the time to write, so far, 23 books mostly on yacht design, construction and surveying, but also popular accounts of the ocean voyaging of his youth. He played a starring role in the BBC film of the Clyde Cruising Club’s 1968 Tobermory Race, narrated by Sally Magnusson’s father, the much missed broadcaster, Magnus. We wrote about it last year in what has become the most popular post at this blog.

Ian’s appreciation of G.L. Watson – The Art and Science of Yacht Design for the 2012 Royal Northern & Clyde YC Yearbook (page 55) has recently been added to the Reviews page at the Peggy Bawn Press blog. We were rather taken with his final words:

“… the sensuous and mental joys of owning this lovely volume are endless.”

Martin Black’s beautifully illustrated and written biography, G.L. Watson – The Art and Science of Yacht Design, can be purchased online at our website www.peggybawnpress.com, from Amazon UK and Amazon USA, and from the bookstores listed here.

www.peggybawnpress.com

~ Iain McAllister ~

[With thanks to: Rona Grierson |  The Lochside Press  |  Cove & Kilcreggan Book Festival  |  Mylne Yacht Design.]

[Update 5 December 2014: After posting last night, we found this remarkable testament to the health benefits of ocean cruising and a life around boats – and a reminder that Ian Nicolson was one of the Ocean Cruising Club’s founding members in 1954.]

Posted in boatbuilders, boatyards, book, film, Firth of Clyde, G.L. Watson, G.L. Watson & Co., gift, Glasgow, Martin Black, naval architect, object of desire, other yacht designers, sailmakers, Uncategorized, yacht clubs, yacht design, yacht designer, yachting history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Weekend Watson – Camilla

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Camilla, 30 years their senior, leads the Gareloch One Designs during their 90th anniversary sail past, Gareloch, Scotland, August 2014.
(photo: Don MacLean)

The sweet, varnished gaff cutter Camilla is one of a very special group of surviving yachts designed during the all too short lifetime of Glasgow naval architect and yacht designer, G.L. Watson (1851-1904). The business carrying his name continued – and still does – but pre-1904 vessels are extremely rare.

During the last weekend of August, Camilla led the Gareloch One Design fleet – the “Gareloch Godesses” – across the Scottish loch they are named after, from the site of their birth at Clynder to the Royal Northern & Clyde Yacht Club, Rhu for their 90th anniversary salute.

Camilla racing at the 1995 McGruer Regatta.
(McGruer & Co. Ltd.)

Numbers ending in four are very significant in this story: the Club can trace the Royal Northern YC side of its ancestry back to its foundation in 1824 as the Northern Yacht Club on Belfast Lough ( now Northern) Ireland; Camilla was built by Alexander Robertson and launched at his Sandbank, Holy Loch yard in 1894; the 24ft Gareloch One Designs were designed by Ewing McGruer and built at Clynder by his family boatyard, McGruer & Co., from 1924; and Camilla’s designer died in his prime in 1904, in his 54th year.

Camilla is typical of the smaller Clyde yachts of her time, owing their origins to a fusion of the local inshore fishing boats with the contemporary rapid advances in yacht design. She was commissioned by Samuel Millar of Glasgow about whom we know nothing more at present, except that he chose designer and builder very well.

Arian and Bill Inglis, her present caretakers since 1986, are her 8th doting owners. The pitch pine on oak hull is in remarkable condition, but when they began necessary works to replace a soft deck and unoriginal deckhouse they were fortunate to make contact with an earlier owner whose input, together with the clues visible under the stripped deck, allowed her original pear-shaped coach house design and canvassed deck to be reinstated .

Camilla is believed to be the oldest yacht, and the oldest locally designed and built yacht, regularly in commission on the Firth of Clyde – at least in the seasons when the 1887 William Fife Sr-designed Ayrshire Lass is not in commission.

PBP_daisy

The list of believed or known to survive Watson yachts designed up to 1904 is (by design number):

#97 Spartan, cutter, 4 tons, 1885

#140 Beröe, yawl, 8 tons, 1887

#198 Thistle, R Clyde YC 23ft Class, 1890

#206 Volunteer, R Clyde YC 23ft Class, 1890 (based on very old intelligence)

#302 Camilla, cutter, 4 tons, 1894

#317 Peggy Bawn, cutter, 7 tons, 1894

#409 Triton, steam yacht, 1902

#437 Minona, steam yacht, 1906

A very exclusive club.

PBP_daisy

Martin Black’s beautifully illustrated and written biography, G.L. Watson – The Art and Science of Yacht Design, can be purchased online at our website www.peggybawnpress.com, from Amazon UK and Amazon USA, and from the bookstores listed here.

www.peggybawnpress.com

~ Iain McAllister ~

Posted in boatbuilders, boatyards, Clyde yachting, Clydebuilt, Firth of Clyde, G.L. Watson, G.L. Watson & Co., G.L. Watson clients, gift, Glasgow, naval architect, object of desire, other yacht designers, The Weekend Watson, Uncategorized, yacht clubs, yacht design, yacht designer, yacht racing, yachting history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reviews

John Sandoe Books, Chelsea, London. (Mylene Friedrich Rizzo / Clarisse Zanetello Linhares)

John Sandoe Books, Chelsea: how one would want one’s London stockist to look.
(Mylene Friedrich Rizzo / Clarisse Zanetello Linhares)

We’ve recently been enjoying undertaking a long overdue update to the Reviews page at this blog. As the northern hemisphere days shorten – and more often than not darken – it’s often a time to reflect.

This time three years ago, we were approaching the editorial, design and production deadline for Martin Black’s G.L. Watson – The Art and Science of Yacht Design. With the book scheduled to print in Italy during December 2011, and launch at London Boat Show in the first week of January 2012, there’s an intensity to such work that requires a gap in time before one can properly reflect on a job well done.

20140908_121427The reviews gathered there are not the result of a selection process for positives. The only chastening comments we receive are from folk impatient to hear news of the promised second volume of drawings accompanied by a more technical appraisal of Watson’s work. We are just as impatient, and will write about that soon.

Meanwhile we hope you can enjoy with us some excellent writing by readers and reviewers, known and happy to be not known, about Martin Black’s beautifully written and produced biography of the great Scottish yacht designer, G.L. Watson.

And if you are looking for a Christmas present idea for the maritime person in your life, look no further.

Read the reviews at www.peggybawn.wordpress.com/reviews/

Buy the book at www.peggybawnpress.com, or from the list of worldwide stockists here.

~ Iain McAllister ~

 

100th PostPS: Crikey… apparently this was the 100th post to the blog.

There’s a lot of good reading here although I say it myself, or at least interesting subjects. But the real deal, of course, is Martin Black’s biography of yacht designer, G.L. Watson…

 

Posted in America's Cup, Big Class, book, Britannia, Clyde yachting, Clydebuilt, Firth of Clyde, G.L. Watson, G.L. Watson & Co., G.L. Watson & Co. Ltd., Glasgow, Hal Sisk, Irish yachting, leather-bound, Lifeboat, limited edition, Martin Black, naval architect, object of desire, photography, River Clyde, RNLI, rowing, Sail and oar, shipyards, Steam Yacht, tank testing, yacht clubs, yacht design, yacht designer, yacht racing, yachting history | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment