Category Archives: History

A mystery boat – can anyone identify this old clinker-built dinghy?

[ad name=”intheboatshed-post”]

clinker, dinghy, spider T

clinker, dinghy, spider T

A mystery dinghy with a rather nice old-fashioned shape. But what is she, and how old?

Mal Nicholson has sent me these two photos of a boat he has bought, and which he intends to fettle up for use as a tender with the Humber sloop known as Spider T. Read all about her here.

She’ll fit neatly on Spider T’s carling hatches – but what is she? Mal says he has a mast and sails, but there’s no centreboard and there seem to be no identifying marks.

I’d say she was about 16ft in length, or may be a foot or two longer, and that she has a rather nice shape.

By they way, on the 13th and 14th March Mal and friends will be holding an open day from 10am to 4pm at Spider T’s home moorings at Keadby Lock near the A18; she will be open from 10 am to 4 pm on the Saturday and 11 am to 4 pm on the Sunday. If you get along, do mention intheboatshed.net – I gather you might just get a guided tour!

The Stephen family and the stories of the Fraserborough zulus Violet and Vesper

[ad name=”intheboatshed-post”]

zulu, fishing boat, violet, vesper, stephen

zulu, fishing boat, violet, vesper, stephen zulu, fishing boat, violet, vesper, stephen zulu, fishing boat, violet, vesper, stephen

Violet Stephen, the girl after whom the zulu Violet was named; Alexander Grieve Stephen, and the zulu Violet

zulu, fishing boat, violet, vesper, stephen zulu, fishing boat, violet, vesper, stephen zulu, fishing boat, violet, vesper, stephen

Violet; William and George Stephen on board Violet, and William Stephen aboard Violet

David Stephen Rennie, great grandson of the first owners of the Violet has sent me some old photos and family history surrounding the old zulu, which is now maintained and sailed by Gary Maynard, and also of Vesper.

To read more about Violet as she is now, click here, and see the comments to this post.

The stories of old boats and of the families involved add a great deal to our apprection and understanding, so many thanks David!

Violet FR451 was built in 1911 at James Nobles for my great-grandfather Alexander Grieve Stephen (1873-1935) for about £90; the boat was named after his youngest daughter Violet (1910-94).

He had been skipper of the George Noble FR6, and during World War I he served in the Royal Navy.

When Violet was launched they went small line fishing with mussel-baited hooks and worked the herring during the season.

Originally Violet had a mast and sail, but was later converted to motor power first with a 15hp Kelvin engine and later a 30hp Kelvin, and in 1936 was fitted with a 48hp Gardner.

Alexander Grieve Stephen returned from the sea about 1931 owing to ill health and took a job as berthing master, and his brother in law James Duthie took over as skipper until about 1935. In 1934 Violet was rescued by Fraserburgh’s lifeboat.

On the 13th November 1935 Alexander Grieve Stephen died aged 61, and in that year his son John took over as skipper and was joined by his brothers George and William.

In March 1975 Violet was put up for sale owing to the failing health of both John, who was now 73, and William, who had suffered a severe heart attack. Violet was sold to the Sprague brothers and left Fraserburgh for the last time on th 12th May 1975.

The generation of the Stephen family who had known and fished aboard Violet lived for some time more, but were all gone within a few years of each other. David again:

On the 21st June 1983 John Stephen died aged 81 after a series of strokes. On the 6th of September 1983 my grandfather George Stephen died aged 74 from lung cancer, and on the 7th November 1986 William Stephen died aged 73 years and was buried on the 11th November, his 74th birthday.

Vesper FR453 was built in 1911 at Fraserburgh and was owned by George Noble and John Buchan. She was sold on the 8th April 1935 to my grandfather’s oldest brother, Alexander Duthie Stephen (Sandy) (1898-1982); by that time he had been Vesper’s skipper since October 1918.

Owing to ill health, Vesper was sold to Edwin Wiseman in 1957. It was then sold to Alexander Ross in 1958 and then in November 1970 to David and Isaac Newlands of Pittenween. In 1972 it was registered as Vesper II KY36, and then from January 1982 as Vesper II AA36 until February 1988, when it ceased fishing. (KY stands for Kirkcaldy and AA stands for Alloa – see a list of fiishing port codes here.) By the autumn of 1989 it was a ruin at Buckie, and only a few years ago it was broken up.

Alexander Duthie Stephen died on the 3rd December 1982 aged 84.

zulu, fishing boat, violet, vesper, stephen zulu, fishing boat, violet, vesper, stephen zulu, fishing boat, violet, vesper, stephen

Alexander Duthie Stephen; Alexander Duthie Stephen aboard Vesper; Vesper

If you’d like to receive a weekly intheboatshed.net newsletter sign up here.

Peter Baylis’s photos of Scoter in her prime

[ad name=”intheboatshed-post”]

Alan Buchanan, ceilidh of fife, fife, idle duck, maurice griffiths, phakoe, River Tay, scoter

Scoter in Norway, July 1962.  Colin Grierson has his foot on the tiller. Audry Grierson is bending down amidships. The guard rail of Peter Baylis’ boat Phakoe is just visible in the foreground

Alan Buchanan, ceilidh of fife, fife, idle duck, maurice griffiths, phakoe, River Tay, scoter

Scoter in Norway again, July 1962. The boy standing behind Audry is not her son Douglas, but Peter doesn’t remember his name

Peter Baylis has kindly sent us a collection of photographs of Scoter and the Grierson family and friends during the 1950s and ’60s. A family friend himself, he says he was much saddened to see the state she has been reduced to, but pleased to learn she is to be restored. (See the original post on Scoter here.)

Here’s what he has to say about Scoter’s story during the time he knew her:

Colin Grierson was a neigbour of mine both in Wormit and Tayport Harbour where my mooring was alongside Scoter. After Colin died, Scoter was taken on by his son, Douglas for a few years until he sold her to I know not who.

‘Colin converted Scoter for offshore sailing and had many cruises with his family to Holland and Norway. It fell to my lot on many occasions, to help Colin load and unload the many tons of pig iron ballast Scoter had.’

Peter, who owned Phakoe and Ceildh of Fife in these photos, is particularly interested to learn about the whereabouts and history of Ceilidh of Fife – if anyone knows her story, please contact me at gmatkin:gmail.com and I will pass the information on to Peter.

Alan Buchanan, ceilidh of fife, fife, idle duck, maurice griffiths, phakoe, River Tay, scoter Alan Buchanan, ceilidh of fife, fife, idle duck, maurice griffiths, phakoe, River Tay, scoter Alan Buchanan, ceilidh of fife, fife, idle duck, maurice griffiths, phakoe, River Tay, scoter

(Left) Low tide in Tayport Harbour. The yachts float on very soft mud. The boat in the centre is Ceilidh of Fife, the boat Peter had after Phakoe. The stern of Scoter is lower left. (Centre) Scoter on her moorings at Tayport. The varnished boat is Phakoe. Lower left the stern of Seagrim is just visible; she’s the boat Hazel and Brian Kelly owned before they commissioned Idle Duck. (Right) Damaged slide of Tayport Harbour moorings. The varnished boat is Phakoe with Scoter next and then Seagrim. The photo was taken during the late 1950s; Peter says the harbour now is full of expensive looking yachts on pontoons

Alan Buchanan, ceilidh of fife, fife, idle duck, maurice griffiths, phakoe, River Tay, scoter Alan Buchanan, ceilidh of fife, fife, idle duck, maurice griffiths, phakoe, River Tay, scoter

(Left) This picture shows Colin Grierson, owner of Scoter, watching the first launch of Peter’s Alan Buchanan-designed yacht Ceilidh of Fife in June 1966. (Centre) First launch of Ceilidh of Fife from Woodhaven pier near Wormit, Fife. Colin is holding the port fore guide rope. Scoter is in the centre of the picture dressed overall. June 1966. (Right) Ceilidh of Fife dressed overall on the occasion of the opening of the Tay Road Bridge by the Queen Mother, August 18 1966. The bridge can be seen in the background


(Left)Peter’s first yacht Phakoe, 1961. Picture taken in the River Tay after returning from Norway: note the yellow flag to request Customs clearance. (Right) His second yacht Ceilidh of Fife alongside in Mandal, Southern Norway. The green boat is Seagrim, the yacht owned by Hazel & Brian Kelly prior to owning the Maurice Griffths-designed yacht Idle Duck. Brian Kelly acquired Seagrim from the Kiel Yacht Club, Kiel, Germany at the end of World War II

PS Check out the comments below for more information on this photos, and about Scoter herself.